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Lifeguard Shortage Impacts Pools In Allegheny County

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (KDKA) - We've been feeling the summer heat, and many swimming pools have been struggling to find lifeguards.

The Allegheny County Parks Department wasn't getting enough lifeguard applications, so the department raised the pay rate to $14 an hour and certification is available at no cost.

The county Parks Department will open North Park Swimming Pool, Boyce Park Wave Pool, Settlers Cabin Park Wave Pool, South Park Wave Pool, Deer Lakes Spray Park and Round Hill Spray Park on June 5. All pools will close June 7 and re-open June 12 for the season.

"We weren't able to operate in the 2020 season, but we're excited to operate in the 2021 season," Andrew Grobe, assistant deputy director of the Allegheny County Parks Department. "We're ready. We're excited to have people back in our pools. Our parks have never been busier, and we're excited to open up our pools."

At North Park Swimming Pool, teens were learning how to be lifeguards on Thursday but getting enough lifeguards has been challenging.

"It's been difficult, we've been struggling. We increased the salary to $14 an hour and one of the things we're doing if you come and take our test and get certified by us, we reimburse you the $200 it takes you to sign up for the class," Grobe said.

Every season, the county Parks Department tries to hire 150 lifeguards. They aren't there yet, and positions are still open.

"We will still take lifeguards. We have enough to get started, but we're going to be training and certifying lifeguards all season," Grobe said. "We're in a good spot and we're hopeful that we'll keep gaining those numbers at hit that 150, hopefully early in the summer."

"We've been certifying a lot of kids. It's great to help young people get jobs," said Mercedes McCarthy, aquatics director for Allegheny County Parks.

Some pools are empty, like Sue Murray Pool in the city's North Side. The city of Pittsburgh announced preparations to open eight of its public pools on June 14, but they will only open if the city gets enough lifeguards. They've received 70 applications and need 80 guards.

So put on some sunscreen and grab a rescue tube if you want a summer job. There are plenty of openings floating around.

"It teaches them a lot of responsibility. It's a lifelong skill they will have forever and being certified at first aid and CPR comes in handy outside of the swimming pool. It just gives them a leg up going forward in their careers," McCarthy said.

Those interested in applying to become a lifeguard for a county pool, you can apply online and learn more about upcoming tests and certification classes here.

Those interested in working for the city of Pittsburgh as a lifeguard can apply here.

If fully staffed, the pools scheduled to open on June 14 are Ammon, Highland, Homewood, Ormsby, Phillips, Sue Murray, Ream and Schenley. The city said as more lifeguards are hired, more city public pools could open.

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