HUNTSVILLE, Ala — There's evidence of staffing shortages all around us, from 'help wanted' signs to longer than usual waiting lines... and places like public pools are no exception.
"In a typical year, we would have had anywhere from 25 to 35 lifeguard applicants prior to the beginning of summer. This year we have less than 10," said City of Huntsville's Aquatic Activities Manager, David Kalange.
Although the number of available lifeguards is much lower than usual, closing the pool down completely is not part of the summer forecast:
"Because we have the luxury of having a number of different pools, we would probably not shut down any of our facilities. We might have to draw back some of the times and the limits on some of the pools that we do offer. But we would not shut down completely, no," said Kalange.
But there will be a limit of people allowed in each pool due to safety says Kalange, "we have to limit the number of people we allow in each pool based on industry standard and Red Cross guidelines."
Working as a city lifeguard comes with benefits, like hourly pay over the national minimum wage and insurance opportunities! Alongside this, there's also the satisfaction that comes with serving the community!
"We're here to be the last line of defense, the extra safety measure that allows people to come to our facilities, enjoy the pools enjoy them safely and then go home and come back again," said Kalange.
Public pools and their lifeguards really add to the overall quality of life in a community, especially during the summer and especially during this extreme heat.
"It allows people to come and to enjoy some recreation, stay cool, be safe, things like that. And then also for those guys and gals that would normally be either running, biking or swimming outdoors. It allows them to come into a facility where the water is not going to be at the same temperature they might have at their outdoor pools. They can safely work out and things like that and still go home and come back again," said Kalange.