29 May 2022
Raleigh, N.C. — Lake Johnson, Longview, Biltmore Hills and Ridge Road pool will not be open this weekend because of a lifeguard shortage.
Half of all City of Raleigh parks are closed right now, according to Ken Hisler, assistant director at the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department.
The city is looking for at least 75 new lifeguards, but Hisler says 100 new lifeguards would be ideal.
“[We] had to delay opening in some cases, we may not have all the bodies of water open and some of our year round pools. We’ve been limited in instructions and swims lessons,” Hisler said.
The shortage of lifeguards is nothing new, but the pandemic has made it much worse.
“I think a lot of people consider during the pandemic what they really want to do,” he said.
Hisler said the parks department has increased pay from$9 to $13 in hopes of attracting staff, however, only around 30% of the last round of applications passed the required swim test.
“It’s kind of physically demanding. You have to be able to swim, you have to be able to go 300 yards without stopping. You have to tread water for a few minutes and you need to be able to pull a 10 pound block off the bottom of the pool and do some swimming in it,” he said.
According to the city of Raleigh’s job’s website, the part of a lifeguard is only seasonal and part-time. Until the city finds enough lifeguards, pools will not be opening.
“We hope it doesn’t come to that, we are always working to juggle,” he said “It comes down to safety first, and we will not put anyone in a position where any risk goes into that.”
The hope is to have all all pools open by June 10. For more information on how to apply, go to the city of Raleigh’s website.