Swimming certainly is top of mind for many kids and adults. Most public pools will open in just about two weeks. But before the pools can open, lifeguards have to be trained and hired.
Mark Campanella, Sr. superintendent of the Town of Tonawanda Parks and Recreation department joined us today to tell us more. Mark says come this Monday’s Town Meeting they will have completed hiring the lifeguards for the season. He says, “We will continue to hire as the year goes on because as everyone knows, the national news yesterday and today, there is a shortage of lifeguards. With that being said, our Lincoln Park outdoor pools, the main pool and the wading pool will be open, our Kenmore pools, the wading pool and the main pool and our Aquatic and Fitness Center will be open this year.” He goes on to say, “due to New York Health mandates, the Health Department mandates that you have to have so many lifeguards per square foot of a pool, so at any given time should one or two not show up you may have to close a section or two of the pool. We are hoping not to have that problem this year because we should have some 40 lifeguards on staff. We haven’t and won’t be opening the Brighton pool this year. We made that decision when COVID hit us and you have that uncertainty not knowing if we’re going to open pools but this summer, we were able to pull it off, open the Lincoln pool for the community.
What does the training and certification process? Mark says it’s not easy. It’s provided through the American Red Cross and each candidate has to, you know, pay that bill. I think it’s somewhere around $200 or $300. That’s an expense to them. It’s grueling; it’s a hard course, but at the end of the day there is a lot of responsibility put on these lifeguards and you know you may have to save a life or apply first aid for somebody who hit their head. But, at the end of the day, the majority of the candidates do pass the requirement test and then they move on the neat thing about lifeguarding, you are able to start working at 15 years old, so that has helped us. The fact that we’ve increased our hourly rate for lifeguards because it’s a lot of responsibility for a lifeguard. We have started them out at $15.50 an hour. It will commensurate with experience. You may be able to get $17 or $17.50 an hour.”
Mark says, our community pocket parks have sprinkler spray systems in them, those are open in the different regions of our area here in the Town of Tonawanda and the Village of Kenmore. It is basically push button. You press it and the sprinklers go on and there is a timer so that helps with the neighborhoods.” They are planning a soft opening for the pools as we get closer to the school year ending. He says they should have everything open and ready to roll when the kids get out of school.
For more information go to the application website ttypr.com