A national lifeguard shortage could keep about a third of the nation’s 309,000 public pools from opening and leave lifeguard towers unguarded at the nation’s beaches this summer, according to the American Lifeguard Association.
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“Ever since lifeguarding started, we’ve had difficulty filling the ranks because it’s a tough job to obtain,” Wyatt Werneth, the association’s national spokesman said, reports The New York Post.
The job may seem like an easy one to a casual observer, but it requires first aid and trauma training, as well as rigorous physical work and observation skills.
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Already, city officials in Overland Park, Kansas, say they’ve been forced to close two of the city’s five outdoor pools because of staffing shortages.
“Our staff worked incredibly hard throughout the winter and spring to hire, train, certify, onboard, and schedule more than 150 lifeguards to safely staff the outdoor pools,” city spokeswoman Meg Ralph commented.
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According to the American Lifeguard Association, the national shortage is partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of J-1 exchange work visas.
“We’re going to get through this,” Werneth said. “As first responders, lifeguards are very resourceful. Even in earlier times, when we had a shortage in lifeguards, we find ways to educate and protect the public, which is our number one priority.”
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Werneth said he wants to remind everyone to swim near a lifeguard, learn to swim safely, and check nearby weather conditions before heading out. Continue reading at Newsmax.