National lifeguard shortage affecting Memphis pools

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 7:44 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Summer weather is here and that means many will be heading to local pools to cool off.

The pool at the Ed Rice community center is one of four outdoor pools that will open on June 3.

The national lifeguard shortage is also affecting Bluff City.

Nick Walker, Parks Director City of Memphis says they intended to open nine pools this year four indoor and five outdoor.

As they tested pools and were in the process of recertifying lifeguards, many of them either failed their lifeguard test, chose to drop out, or took a job elsewhere.

So city park officials decided to open four outdoor pools at a time.

The plan is to rotate one pool off and one pool on, every two weeks.

Walker says not having enough lifeguards partly stems from the pandemic.

“Some of it has to do with after effects of COVID, pools were closed down for a long time, and our pools are where we train our lifeguards,” said Nick Walker, Parks Director at the City of Memphis. “And every lifeguard has to be recertified every two years, and so we lost a significant amount of lifeguards who lost their certifications during the pandemic, and just never decided to come back.”

The Gooch pool will be the first pool to rotate in two weeks.

Walker says choosing which pools open will be based on the volume of people attending certain pools.

He also says they’re still looking for more lifeguards to be able to open more pools at a time the city needs about 20 more.

Starting pay for lifeguards is $15 an hour which is the highest in the county.

The city will also pay a $500 sign-on bonus for anyone who becomes a lifeguard and offer free training for people to become certified.

The next lifeguard class is set for next Thursday.

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