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Joplin Lifeguard Shortage - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Lifeguard Shortage

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Joplin pools are facing a lifeguard shortage during a busy opening weekend. 

The Parks and Rec Department currently has just under 70 lifeguards on staff. That's 20 under the 90 lifeguards they need to be fully staffed. 

Aquatics Supervisor Chad Coleman says this isn't the first time the department has faced this problem.. Last year they were short several coming into the summer, but were able to hire enough to be fully staffed right before opening day. 

He says, "It's a pretty national shortage across the nation. I've talked to a lot of my friends in the industry and they run through the same problems. They try to do facility wise to shorten the number of lifeguards they need, and we're pretty much at our shortest capacity as far as lifeguards, so we really can't run on any less than we have already."

To deal with the shortage, the department has reduced the number of days the pools at Cunningham and Ewert park are open. 

Coleman says the department chose to do this because it is a matter of safety. 

He says, "For every 2-thousand square feet is one lifeguard. And then we have a lot of obstacles in the way for our lifeguards. If it was just a rectangle, we could do it with four or five lifeguards, but without those guards being able to see what's on the other side of those obstacles in their way, we wouldn't see anybody drowning on that side."

But Molly Merrithew, a lifeguard at Schifferdecker Aquatic Center, says being short staffed doesn't necessarily mean they aren't able to keep people safe.

She says,"I don't think that there is a safety problem because we have taken the precautions for that. But I also think that it would be great to have all three pools open every day so everybody from all different ages could enjoy the pools."

The department plans to have two of the three pools open every day during the summer. 

For a full pool schedule, follow this link: https://www.joplinmo.org/957/Hours-Rates.

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