Joplin working to fill over 100 open lifeguard positions

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JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin Parks and Recreation Department is having issues filling lifeguard positions.

What does it mean if they can’t find enough lifeguards? That means they might have to close some pools or rotate which pools are open. They are looking to hire more than 100 lifeguards to keep all three city pools open.

Paul Bloomberg, Parks and Recreation Director, said, “We would really like to get enough lifeguards to open up all three pools. Last year all we opened up was Schifferdecker Pool.”

The Joplin Parks and Recreation Department is struggling to fill more than 100 open lifeguard positions at its three pools. They say because of the pandemic they are not able to do presentations at schools to get the word out.

“We try to recruit them before they want to go work at another place. They’re starting to look for their Summer jobs now. We try to make it financially affordable for these kids to be lifeguards.”

An aquatics engineering and design firm says they have been seeing a shortage in lifeguards nationwide. They say scheduling is a conflict and the job itself is hard to sell.

Lauren Ozburn, Water’s Edge Operations Analyst, said, “Over time families individuals, and teenagers have come to realize and really understand the job of a lifeguard is quite serious and it is in fact lifesaving. They’re taught emergency skills, they perform as a first responder just as an EMT would or even someone within the fire department. Because should an emergency situation arise that person is responsible. “

She says there are some things cities can do to retain employees.

“Developing an enriching work culture predominantly for teenagers is really one of the strongest way you can recruit, train, retain, and then get them back the following year. Its creating that positive culture.”

The Parks and Recreation Department will be hosting lifeguard training in April and May.

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