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Lifeguards needed at southern Alberta swimming pools

Click to play video: 'Pools across southern Alberta in need of lifeguards' Pools across southern Alberta in need of lifeguards
WATCH ABOVE: The recreation sector is slow to recover as pools in southern Alberta face lifeguard staffing shortages. Jaclyn Kucey has more on what this means for the upcoming summer season – May 13, 2022

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced pool closures, it also put a hold on lifeguard training courses.

Doug Sanders, manager and operator of Cardston Swimming Pool in southern Alberta, said pools across the province are still struggling to keep lifeguards on staff.

“The crisis is not only here in Alberta, but throughout North America,” he said.

READ MORE: Lifeguard shortage could be dangerous to Manitoba swimmers, society says

That also includes Lethbridge. According to Sunni Belle, Recreation Excellence general manager for Lethbridge, lifeguard training courses in the city have been near maximum capacity for the last six months. Still, the problems lie in getting people to become certified.

“From start to finish, (getting certified) can take years,” she said. “If you’re 16 and you’re a go-getter, I would say four to six months, depending on how many courses you can find and how much time you have.”

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The regulations in Alberta require one lifeguard to monitor about 40 swimmers. Belle said Henderson Pool alone needs at least 18 lifeguards per shift.

“If we don’t have fully staffed pools, then it’s not safe for the public,” she said. “You need to take your first aid; you need your bronze cross; you need your lifeguarding courses (and) water safety instruction courses to be able to teach swimming lessons.

“There’s a host of courses that you need to take in order to be a lifeguard. That doesn’t just happen overnight.”

Russ Tanner, director of recreation and community services for the Town of Coaldale, said he doesn’t expect the shortages to carry over long term.

“I think as we get back up and going and more courses happen around us and more kids are certified, (the shortage) will be corrected,” Tanner said.

Joanna Jones, director of operations for the YMCA of Lethbridge, said their goal is to increase the number of courses they offer and get more people trained in water safety.

“We need to have people back in our pools swimming and learning to swim to keep people of all levels safe within our communities from drowning,” she said.

Anyone interested in becoming a certified lifeguard can register for courses through the Lifesaving Society.

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