Thailand: New ambulances help Phang-Nga prepare for next disaster

by Maude Froberg in Phang-Nga; pictures by Kitty Logan

Few things are as important as time when lives are to be saved.

In the tsunami-stricken province of Phang-Nga in southern Thailand, hundreds of injured people were rushed to hospitals and healthcare centres by whatever means of transportation was readily available.

One major constraint in this area, however, was the long distances that had to be covered to reach medical attention.

Now the Finnish Red Cross has addressed this crucial issue by providing the local health authorities with nine new ambulances.

"Even if we don't know when the next disaster is going to strike, we still have to prepare for it," says Timo Korhonen of the Finnish Red Cross.

"As it takes more than one hour from the coast to reach hospitals and healthcare centres in the region, emergency transportation is of the utmost importance. Since some of the ambulances were too old and not equipped for long-distance travel, an upgrading was necessary."

This is a view that is also shared by Dr Adikiat Irmworaniran, an orthopaedist at the hospital of Phang-Nga which cared for 680 injured when the tsunami struck on December 26.

"In retrospect, there were enough hands, but the standard of medical equipment has to be improved.

The new ambulances are a most welcome support to the local people as we are preparing for future disasters. Therefore we would like to extend our gratitude to the Finnish public and to the Finnish Red Cross," he says.