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Worcester to improve lifeguard safety, partners with YMCA to fill vacancies

Worcester partners with YMCA to fill lifeguard vacancies
Worcester partners with YMCA to fill lifeguard vacancies 02:09

WORCESTER - From indoor pools to outdoor public parks, lifeguards are in need in the city of Worcester. 

Sue Swanson is a former lifeguard and member of the Columbus Park Neighborhood Association. "The need has never been greater," Swanson said. She says as the days grow hotter these public beaches become very packed. The city announced they are partnering with the YMCA of Central Massachusetts to help deal with the lifeguard shortage. 

"This is a great partnership that helps us to not only recruit but retain lifeguards in our community and provide a safe sense of community at the beach in the summer," Worcester City Manager Eric Batista said.

"We've had some rough incidents"

The city says they've faced a number of challenges in the past few years hiring the required number of lifeguards to open all aquatic facilities, from better salaries to feeling safe. In 2021, there were a couple incidents where lifeguards were attacked by beachgoers while on duty. "We've had some rough incidents in the past here in the city and we want to make sure the lifeguards feel safe," Batista said. 

The partnership includes staffing of lifeguards at beaches and pools from the beginning of July through August. The YMCA of Central Massachusetts says they've been training people all year long for this purpose. "We have a large pool to choose from. There are multiple positions including lifeguards as well as safety supervisors and directors of those programs," YMCA of Central Mass President and CEO David Connell said. 

Worcester looking to hire 70 lifeguards

This summer the city is looking to fill around 70 positions for its five major water park areas. They also say there is need to step up security, so lifeguards feel safe as they look over others in the water. 

"Not only are we providing safety measures through security in the public parks, but also it's important that the lifeguards feel the support," Batista said. 

The YMCA says they are equipped with the right staff to help solve the lifeguard shortage. "Make sure we have adequate training and understand the risk we are taking, but at the end of the day it is about how do we uplift the community," Connell said. 

Swanson says being a former lifeguard, she understands all the challenges that go along with the job, but the positions are so important for the city. "It's really a matter of everyone feeling comfortable and most of the attendees are there to have a good time with their families," she said. 

Jobs are posted now through the YMCA and parks division in Worcester. 

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