ITWNE Training Leads to Dramatic Real-Life Rescues
Written By: Thom Henley

It’s not every day someone conducts four successful rescues in the largest river in Asia having only recently learned to swim. In 2016 our Cambodian trip leader, Ty An could not swim at all and told me that I would be wasting company money by putting him through our Lifeguard and CPR training course. “No I’m not,” I replied. “You’re going to learn.” Indeed he did.

ITWNE has just now completed the 2018 re-certification for our staff at the Thanyapura Sports Centre in Southern Thailand, and the instructors were happy to see how their training has paid off when Ty returned to tell his remarkable tale.

Just months before flying to Phuket to join in the training program, Ty performed his fourth rescue in the Mekong River, but this one was nothing short of miraculous. The boy in the below photo, named Remix, is the son of a poor fishing family living in a hut beside the Mekong. Two months ago he and his dad capsized while fishing and the boy got dragged by the fishing line hooks to the bottom of the river over 30 meters deep. He was already on the bottom of the Mekong for half an hour before Ty saved the boys dad in the river and was shown the location where he lost his son. Ty immediately pulled the line (still attached by a hook to the drowned boys arm) and brought Remix to the surface. Ty then performed CPR he had learned at ITWNE training two years earlier and, miraculously, revived the boy after nearly an hour of breathing and chest compressions. Most doctors would say this is impossible.

Remix was now breathing, but still unconscious and he remained lifeless for weeks. The local clinic wrote the boy off as brain dead. They suggested the family take him home to die, but Ty posted images of the lifeless child on social media and raised the funds to transport the boy to the Siem Reap hospital. I was there to offer some financial support to the family a few weeks later when I was in Cambodia to run a student trip. Remix had been unconscious for weeks and there seemed little hope of recovery when I met with his dad. Then, almost miraculously, he started to come back to life. The child is now home with his family, sharing meals and laughing a lot, though he still can’t speak.

The villagers said the legendary Naga in the Mekong had taken hold of the child and to prevent spirits from coming into their village, they dismantled the family’s home. Remix and his family now share a house with relatives and money coming in on line has helped the father replace the boat and motor he lost in the Mekong.

Ty is not the only one of our staff that has saved lives in rivers and lakes. Jacka our Northern Thailand trip leader has saved several people while white water rafting the Pai River and Mana Sareewong (Nicknamed ‘A’) has used his skills learned at ITWNE training to save children in his village. Ratna from Indonesia, who just completed training, is now confident she can do the same.

In addition to learning life saving skills, the semi-annual training offers an opportunity for our staff to come together from different countries, share in a lot of fun and laughter, plan for future trips and bond together as a family. It’s hard for me to imagine a better team to work with.