Salt Lake City, Utah — According to Josh Reusser with Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation, they need anywhere from 200-300 lifeguards for their 19 indoor and outdoor pools across the county.
They hope to open nine outdoor pools for Memorial Day weekend, Reusser said.
“If we don’t get enough, typically what we do is we have a contingency plan where we’re open either on weekends or shorter hours during the week, so we can still open but with very limited hours,” said Reusser.
According to Reusser, they do have some lifeguards going through the training process right now, which lasts about two weeks. “The lifeguards that are getting trained right now will help us fill the gaps but to get all of the chairs filled, we’re looking at probably a mid-June opening, full opening, if we’re able to get all those people,” said Reusser.
The impact of a shortage is also being seen by those who a currently manning the lifeguard stands at pools across the county.
Meg Spence is the pool manager at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex and has been a lifeguard since she was 15 years old, learning valuable and life-saving skills along the way. “When we don’t have enough lifeguards, we don’t have enough coverage for the pool, which creates more of a safety concern and puts people in danger,” said Spence.
Spence is hopeful the lifeguard void can be filled. “We can’t open up certain areas of the pool, we can’t open up the pool as a whole,” explained Spence. “That’s really hard for somebody who is looking forward to their swim every single day.”
According to Reusser, they have boosted the pay for those looking to become lifeguards, starting at $15.55 an hour, up to $18.00 an hour for supervisors.