Local pools struggling to hire lifeguards for upcoming summer season
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -The push is on for local pools to get more lifeguards hired. Even though they’re still a few weeks away from opening day, they’re looking to get people in the water and ready for training.
Some local pools are turning to the Red Cross for help.
”We’re hearing from many pools across the area that they’re not seeing the numbers that they would like to see in terms of people signing up early to enroll in those American Red Cross lifeguarding trainings,” said Jonathan McNamara with the Virginia Red Cross.
That matches what YMCA pools are seeing.
”It has been slow. We’re not seeing as many applications as we had hoped,” explained Britt Cope, the Senior Aquatics Director for the Shady Grove YMCA.
They’ve already started training new lifeguards and are even offering incentives to get more people signed up.
”We will cover the costs of a lifeguard class if you come to us and you’ve never been a lifeguard before, but you meet all of our prerequisites, we’ll pay for you to come and take one of our classes which typically run around 275 or 300 dollars so there is that in addition to working here you do get a membership so you have access to all of the YMCA facilities in Richmond,” Cope said.
In 2022, many local pools had to close or adjust their hours because of the lifeguard shortage. But it wasn’t just in central Virginia. The American Lifeguard Association says roughly 150,000 pools across the country are impacted.
The YMCA says it’s not ruling out having to shorten hours yet.
“Safety is the top priority, so not being able to adequately staff a pool means that the pools hours will be reduced, and amenities will be closed off, and we’re really hoping not to have to do that this summer, but, again, if we don’t have the staff in place it will be something that has to happen,” said Chrissy Fandel, the association aquatics director for the YMCA of Greater Richmond.
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