Lifeguard shortage being felt at pools in Northeast Ohio

BRUNSWICK, OH (WOIO) - The Heritage Park Association in Brunswick is struggling to find lifeguards for the pool this summer.

They've only been able to find two, and need more to adequately staff their facility safely for the season.

They are not alone.

The City of Cleveland is looking for more lifeguards, so is the he Mercy Recreation and Health Center in Amherst, as well as the French Creek YMCA in Avon.

There have been some times when the French Creek YMCA has had to adjust their hours as a result of having limited lifeguard availability, but luckily, they've never had to shut the pool down for the day like some pools in cities across the country, like Denver, for example.

"No not for a day - we've never had to go that far. There might be an hour of two when we had to, but our members here are very understanding, so if we have to make that call, they understand that it is for their safety," said Thomas Lach, the Aquatics Director for the French Creek Y.

Sunny Perales became a lifeguard at 15 after saving a friend on her swim team.

"We were swimming the butterfly, and she cramped up," describes Perales.

Sunny loved being a lifeguard so much, she made a career of it. She's now the pool supervisor at the French Creek YMCA.

"It's a great summer job. It's also a great year round job," added Perales.

Unfortunately, fewer teenagers seem to be doing the same thing.

Why the lifeguard shortage? Certified Lifeguard David Burgett says sometimes the pay is too little for the cost and time involved to become a lifeguard. That being said, it's a pretty nice job to have.

"It can be a rewarding job - just seeing the smiles on people's faces when they are swimming, talking, and even when you save someone - it's like wow, my training really did pay off," said Burgett.

One local pool manager says that there are more pools competing for lifeguards than ever before, and that while the hourly rate for some other jobs has gone up, in many cases, the hourly rate for lifeguards has remained the same. On the flip side, the hours can be flexible, and the pay is competitive at some facilities.

Managers at the French Creek YMCA say that it's not too late to get your certification to be a lifeguard for the summer. Also, they are reminding everyone that you don't have to be a teenager to be a lifeguard. They've recently hired some adults near retirement age who have their lifeguard certification, to work at their pools.

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