Lifeguard shortage in our area impacts community pools

Some pools may remain empty or have shorter hours
Posted at 4:11 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 17:46:10-04

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Lifeguards have a lot of responsibilities, and they will always keep an eye on you at the pool or the beach.

But there's a nationwide shortage of lifeguards, and places like the Town of Tonawanda's Youth, Parks and Recreation are feeling the pressure first hand.

"God forbid somebody's in the bottom of the pool, you've got to be able to pick that person up and navigate him into an area where you can resuscitate them," said Mark Campanella, Superintendent of Parks & Recreation.

Campanella said the shortage was an issue even before the pandemic.

He said things like hourly pay and out-of-pocket costs for certification might deter future applicants. Entry-level pay is $13.50, and could go up to $15.50 or $16 an hour.

Add to that the cost to get certified from the Red Cross, which Campanella said could be close to $200.

The YMCA Buffalo Niagara is having the same problem. Vice President of Operations, Nick Bond, said they have 20 open lifeguard positions.

"There was an entire year where people not conducting or being trained in that skill. It is a very hands-on training," he said.

Bond said this limits the programming they can offer and the amount of time they can keep their pools open.

"The New York State Health Department mandates lifeguards per square footage of a pool," said Campanella. "If we don't have enough lifeguards to man per square footage, we have to shut down a portion of the pool."

Campanella said they're on good footing to operate their Lincoln and Kenmore pools, but Brighton pool will not be open.

Opening day is this Saturday and the official season is June 27 through August 15.

To view open positions at Town of Tonawanda's Youth, Parks and Recreation, click here.