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Lifeguard shortage could impact hours, openings of pools in Salt Lake County

Posted at 5:53 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 19:53:32-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A nationwide lifeguard shortage is being felt in Salt Lake County.

Josh Reusser with Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation explained they need anywhere from 200-300 lifeguards for their 19 indoor and outdoor pools across the county.

Reusser said they hope to open nine outdoor pools for Memorial Day weekend. However, that could be impacted by the shortage of lifeguards.

"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.

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Reusser said they do have some lifeguards going through the training process right now, which lasts about two weeks. Even with that, some pools could open later than expected.

"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 lifeguards stands at pools across the county.

Meg Spence is the pool manager at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex. She has been a lifeguard since she was 15 years old, learning valuable and life saving skills along the way.

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"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, so those looking for some summer fun at the pool won't be impacted.

"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."

Reusser said 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.

If you are looking to apply, you can visit the Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation website.