Saturday, January 03, 2009

Reference: City governor candidates to improve night club safety, Bangkok Post, January 4, 2009

Other than the insanity of indoor fireworks, the major contributng factors in the Santika pub tragedy on New Year's Day incldued (1) an overcrowded indoor public gathering; and absent or inadequate (2) smoke alarm and sprinkler systems (3) emergency procedures (4) emergency exits and (5) access for emergency vehicles. It is also reported that (6) there was only one way out of the building (The big issue: only one way out, Bangkok Post, January 4, 2009). The fact that this particular public gathering happened to be in a pub is not one of the contributing factors that led to the tragedy and yet the response of the authorities has focussed completely on night clubs as if the the tragedy would not have occurred had function of the Santika venue been something else (City governor candidates to improve night club safety, Bangkok Post, January 4, 2009). All public places where these six factors could occur should be examined and audited for safety, not just night clubs. We spent our New Year's Eve in a wat with a thousand other devotees in a facility that was designed for no more than five or six hundred. There was only one way out. There were no emergency exits nor any emergency procedures or drills. There were no smoke alarms and no sprinkler systems. There was inadequate access for emergency vehicles as the wat was at the dead end of a narrow soi with hundreds of cars and food vendors parked willy nilly and enormous crowds shoulder to shoulder an chest to back moving about trying to queue up for food. Had there been any emergency situation at all it would have been a much bigger tragedy than the Santika event. To focus on night clubs as the safety issue would be a tragic mistake. 

Cha-am Jamal

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