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  • Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

Northeast Arkansas pools not impacted by national lifeguard shortage

JONESBORO, Ark- Summer has arrived and, with the Arkansas heat means families are spending time at the swimming pool.

But some states are experiencing a national lifeguard shortage.

KJNB Northeast Arkansas News speaks with multiple parks and recreation departments to if they are experiencing the shortage.

According to the YMCA, and American Lifeguard Association, many pools, and community centers are having to adjust their hours and opening dates due to a shortage of the life-saving staff members.

But management at two pools in northeast Arkansas says a shortage is far from what they’re seeing.

“We’re actually blessed to have a lot of lifeguards and a lot of returning lifeguards. We have a pretty good system in place with [life]guard classes in the spring and a built-in network. It’s- it’s not been a problem here,” says City of Jonesboro pool manager and Jets Aquatics Club CEO.

The Associated Press and NPR have reported the national shortage from Indiana to Missouri, Arkansas, and other states.

But Moore isn’t alone in not feeling the shortage.

The Paragould Community Center has an indoor aquatic center and an outdoor water park.

Assistant parks director Kim Baldridge says they are not experiencing a lifeguard shortage.

“We do not. We were able to hire 35 new lifeguards this year,” says Baldridge.

The American Lifeguard Association links many pools and aquatics centers being closed last year due to the pandemic.

And many lifeguard classes being canceled to the shortage.

Moore credits the city pool not seeing a decrease in lifeguards to multiple areas.

“I feel that we have a very strong aquatic base that-that knows where to go and has opportunities to work. It does help that I’m connected to the swim program, competitively, and the cities rec[reation] department. So, between those two businesses and just twenty years of people knowing to come to us for guards,” he says.

Baldridge did worry if they would be able to stay afloat with fears of the staff shortage.

“We were expecting to have some issues. Ya know it takes a lot of lifeguards out at our waterpark to cover all the needed areas, so we were thrilled to be able to hire that many,” says Baldridge.

Both Moore and Baldridge are thankful they are not experiencing the shortage because a drowning situation can happen in an instant.


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