JOPLIN, MO – A lifeguard shortage continues in Joplin, as well as in other parts of the country.
In years past, there are around 100 lifeguards working for the city pools. But this year, there are only 60.
A big reason for that is the pandemic.
“We offered seven lifeguard training’s in total. We generally only about five, so that was a lot more than we have done in the past.” Says Jessica Johnson, Joplin parks and Recreation Coordinator.
Now in the heat of summer, the pool is open in Joplin, but this year this isn’t as many lifeguards.
“We usually, normally, have the avenues to go recruit through the schools and other areas we go through. This year has been a little bit difficult. COVID put a huge impact on us, we couldn’t get into a lot of the schools we used to go recruit.” Says Paul Bloomberg, Parks and Recreation Director.
Because of this, only one of the three area pools is open to the public for “open swim.”
“If we had 100 lifeguards this year that might be a different story. We could of done a rotation of Cunningham and Ewert, but we only had enough lifeguards to open the Schifferdecker pool.” Says Bloomberg.
With less lifeguards, those longer shifts are sometimes needed.
“Our staff this year are really good about picking up those shifts, filling in where needed. Sometimes they are here from, they can be here from 7:00a.m. somedays until 6:00p.m., or 12:00p.m. to 9:00p.m.” Says Johnson.
Johnson adds, although it’s been harder on lifeguards, she couldn’t be happier with the work they’re putting in.
Johnson says seeing the lifeguards coming to work, enjoying what they do, it makes it all worth it.