Lifeguard shortage could affect hours at Asotin County Aquatic Center

CLARKSTON, WA - The Asotin County Aquatic Center is getting ready for their outdoor water park to open this weekend, but a shortage of lifeguards is making planning difficult.

Reporter Carol Zinke talked to staff at the center and has this report.

The water park opens to the public on Saturday and Aquatic Center Director Nick Bacon said he's seeing a lot of gaps in the schedule because they don't have enough lifeguards available to fill all hours of operation. He said pools around the country are having to delay their openings because of lifeguard shortages. He said they don't want to be one of those pools.

"If we don't have enough lifeguards we'll have to reevaluate how we have current lifeguards positioned throughout the water park to provide effective surveillance coverage," said Bacon. "Our hope to not have to reduce programs or hours because of the shortage."

Bacon said they'd like to have a minimum of 12 lifeguards on duty during summer hours and 15 maximum, but in order to do that they would need to have 40-to-50 lifeguards on staff. Right now, they only have 30. JD Fry is a supervisor at the Aquatic Center and he said this is a job that's worth your time.

"Life guarding is important to me because you get to see the benefit of your work because you're here to save people," said Fry. "You may be watching water and sitting in the sun all day, but in the end it pays off after you make your first rescue, because you've saved someone; you've done something worthwhile."

For people who want to apply, but aren't lifeguard certified, there'll be a training class scheduled for two weeks starting on June 16th. People who successfully pass an oral interview and skills assessment, and agree to work at the park for the entire season will receive free training.

"There's more to life-guarding than saving peoples' lives," said Fry. "You can teach swimming lessons, where you'll help people learn how to swim so that as a lifeguard you may not have to save as many people. But, truthfully all of us are really close group of friends and we have a ton of fun."

If you're interested in applying, you can pick up an application at the Aquatic Center during normal business hours. They'd like to have all lifeguards signed up as soon as possible, but applications for people who are currently uncertified will need to apply by next Friday, June 13th.