Why is there a shortage of lifeguards?Staffing responsible for pool closure

Your local pool may be painful and up-to-date as labor shortages continue to plague almost every sector of the US economy.

This is because pools and recreation centers across the country are facing a serious shortage of lifeguards and swimming instructors. This is the worst shortage in at least 10 years, according to one account. According to the National Recreation and Park Association, nearly eight out of ten park sectors do not have enough staff nationwide.

The situation remains the same in Utah. In Utah, pool operations were poorly maintained, and staff shortages required significant time savings and delayed seasonal operations.

Why is there a shortage of lifeguards?

In many respects, lifeguard shortages are similar to labor shortages in restaurants and grocery stores, which appear to be caused by the same set of factors. After work interruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, young workers are increasingly seeking higher salaries, flexibility and less stressful work.

For David Gray, who manages the talent at the Lagoon Amusement Park, Lifeguard is just one of the seasonal talents he’s always looking for.

“This year we had a harder time attracting applicants to lifeguard positions than we’ve seen in the past,” he said. “But we’re struggling in every seasonal position …. When it comes to food services, games and merchandise, it’s not a much bigger struggle than any other product. It was a struggle again. “

“There are a lot of articles about lack of lifeguards, but I find it interesting because they don’t lack lifeguards. There is a labor shortage for summer work,” he continued. ..

Watchers at the Kerns O’Kill Park Fitness Center are watching swimmers in the Kerns pool on Friday, June 10, 2022.

Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

Observers need to complete training to work, but Gray points out that it’s not a job like a nurse or doctor that requires years of professional education and training. According to Gray, most pools provide hands-on training for future security guards, making it an ideal alternative for many teens and college students to eat fast food. ..

Among other trends, Gray says that the increase in summer programs (camping, music, school, athletics) has reduced the number of students wishing to work in the summer and restricted the use of many job seekers. Said that he noticed.

Interviewing potential hires who can only work one or two days a week has become commonplace, making it difficult to fill all shifts in the schedule.

Why lack of lifeguards is important

Gray points out that even if there is an overall shortage, lifeguards present problems that cannot be easily solved by creative schedules and organizations. The shortage of a few guards does not mean that the ticket office or kiosk line is long, but it puts regular customers at risk.

“We have a duty to take it very seriously,” Gray said. “If you have guests in the pool or slides, you need to have guards. If you don’t have guards to operate the slides or monitor the water to keep guests safe, operate those areas. I couldn’t. “

How the shortage is affecting Utahpur

The lagoon didn’t need to be reduced yet, but the other pools weren’t so lucky.The Liberty Park Pool Salt Lake City usually opens on Memorial Day weekends, but due to lack of staff, Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation, which operates Liberty Park, needs to delay opening days for some pools by at least a few weeks. had.

The Liberty Park Pool will open on June 18th, but will only operate for a limited time on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays (June 16th, Independence Day, Workers’ Day) for the rest of the summer. Is scheduled to be.

West Valley City’s Redwood Pool will not open until July 1st, unless circumstances change to allow it to open sooner.

County spokeswoman Liz Solis has heard from patrons who are dissatisfied with the closure, and suffers from the limited availability, especially because Utah is covered. Said I understand heat wave —But safety has always been their number one concern.

Given the high temperatures, outdoor pools like Liberty Park need to have enough guards on staff to rotate inside to avoid exposure to summer heat throughout the shift.Without proper staffing, pool staff are forced to reduce business hours, as they do. JuneteenthIf the pool is only open from 11am to 3pm

Solis said he knew that if hotels and other pools were occasionally operated without guards, some would complain that county-operated pools should also. However, she points out that sunlight and shade make it difficult to see through the water of the outdoor pool and require a more highly trained observer than is required in small, infrequently used spaces. increase.

“When people think of lifeguards, they often think they’re there for their kids, but lifeguards are for everyone,” Solis said. “We have adults who have something happened while swimming. It needs a life-saving response.”


Lifeguard Mark Black is watching swimmers at the Kerns O’Kill Park Fitness Center Pool in Kerns on Friday, June 10, 2022.

Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

According to Evelyn Everton, a spokeswoman for the city of Sundi, the Alta Canyon Sports Center pool is experiencing a shortage of about 50% compared to the previous year. The pool didn’t have to save time, but the lack of swimming instructors also reduced facilities such as swimming lessons.

Everton told Dezalet News in an email that the shortage was the worst it had experienced in at least 12 years. She quoted similar concerns as Gray said, saying that many employees have limited availability and are free to work each week for only a few hours.

What’s next?

Like many other companies, pools have tried different incentives to get more people working, starting with wage increases.

The lagoon offers bonuses to employees staying during the summer, and Alta Canyon offers lifeguards free gym membership and discounts on amenities in other cities.

Liberty Park Pool offers as high as $ 19 an hour based on certification levels and previous experience.

But did the increased perks really help? Mr Gray said business and employment have always been “circular” and that he sees things turn around at some point in the future, but he doesn’t expect a quick solution.

Others paint even more rosy pictures of their efforts to boost employment.

“I don’t think it helped in our case or in the rest of the valley,” Everton said.

Gray, Solis and Everton all emphasized that they would continue to recruit lifeguards throughout the summer and encouraged interested people to apply for their website.


Watchers at the Kerns O’Kill Park Fitness Center are watching swimmers in the Kerns pool on Friday, June 10, 2022.

Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

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https://www./utah/2022/6/20/23162706/lifeguard-shortage-shorter-hours-public-pools-lagoon-amusement-park Why is there a shortage of lifeguards?Staffing responsible for pool closure

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