Lifeguard Shortage Closes Community Pool for Third Year

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A community in Massachusetts is lamenting that lifeguard shortages have closed their pool for a third straight year, as the area experiences a heat wave, with heat index values up to 101

The Easthampton Parks and Recreation Department could not open the pool because it was unable to recruit the 5 to 8 lifeguards needed to open up for the season.

A parks employee told news station WGGB-TV that at this point, it's too late in the season to open the pool. It takes about 17 days to fill and prepare the pool.

Director of Parks and Recreation John Mason told WGGV-TV in April that he was trying to fill eight open positions. 

In Easthapmpton, lifeguards must be at least 16 years old, and the city reimburses lifeguards for their certification course. The city was offering $16 an hour. 

Matthew McMahon of Easthampton was perplexed by the fact that they could not fill the jobs in time.

“Normally, what they do is they hire the high school students in the summer,” he told us. “So yeah, it was a little weird that there were not enough high school students to police the pool.”

The American Lifeguard Association said the shortage is affecting about a third of the country’s public pools. The organizatoin cited the pandemic canceling lifeguard certification classes, and lifeguards finding new, higher paying jobs when pools were closed as the reasons why.

While the pool remains closed, the community children are able to cool off at the splash pad at Nonotuck Park. 

In June, the Easthampton City Council signed a letter of support for proposed upgrades to the pool, including making it more accessible to people with disabilities. The work would happen over the next 6 years.

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