In southern Nevada, Clark County Pools need more than 100 lifeguards. As a result, Aquatic Supervisor Katie Boehme said on average only six out of 16 pools are open with limited hours.
“No one is happy because the water park is not open enough for families with young children, the pool is not open enough for swimmers and we don’t have enough programs,” Boehme said. .
In response, Clark County raised the hourly wage for lifeguards from $9.50 to $13, and the county now pays for new recruits to be trained, which typically costs $120. Boehme said this has helped the aquatics department recruit about 60 people so far.
In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis recently announced The 2022 Swimming Pools Special Initiative to address the shortage of lifeguards. According to Polis, a recent poll found that only 57% of public pools in the state are fully open.
Thanks to this initiative, lifeguards aged 16 and 17 are allowed to work more overtime. The state has also launched a $25,000 grant program that aquatic centers can use to retain and recruit staff. Aspiring lifeguards can earn $1,000 by completing a week of training before being hired.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana , KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations throughout the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.