North Texas Cities Dealing With Lifeguard Shortages As Summer Approaches

Cities all across North Texas are limiting days, hours or even entire facilities that will be open due to lifeguard shortages.

Video Transcript

- A lifeguard shortage is keeping some swimming pools from opening for the beginning of the summer season. Getting that news today, Cities all across North Texas in fact limiting days, limiting hours even entire facilities that will be open. Jason Allen, live for us in North Richland Hills to bring us up to speed with what's going on there. Jason

JOSH ALLEN: Doug, as you mentioned a minute ago, this was the last day of school for some districts. As you would expect, kids are ready to head to the water park, head out to the pool. In our H2O, where we are, they're open, they're ready, but not every city in every pool is quite ready for people to jump in.

After last summer's closures due to COVID, city parks departments around North Texas we're expecting big crowds of pools this year lasting well into summer. When they started trying to fill poolside positions though months ago, they noticed something was different.

SUSIE HERGENGRADER: We were a little concerned when we first started recruiting, realized that they weren't coming in like normal. Tide it to the pandemic and kept thinking well, it's going to improve.

JOSH ALLEN: It never did. Without enough lifeguards in Cities, including Hurst, Lewisville, Irving, Richardson, Plano. Pools aren't open as many days, or as many hours or some may not open entirely. Hurst is only expected to open this pool for some swim lessons and small events. Louisville still needs about 25 more employees to open up all the facilities it intended.

STACIE ANAYA: Does not just other municipalities who offer an aquatic experience but we're competing with the mall, and you know retail, and the entertainment and restaurant industry.

JOSH ALLEN: The cities have raised pay rates, offered reduced or even free certification fees, but not much has worked. They couldn't get into schools to recruit-- didn't have many returning guards from last year's closures, and some had their certifications expired.

SUSIE HERGENGRADER: And we're finding that many of them when we call them back up and ask them to come back, they're saying you know I'm not ready to go through that again.

JOSH ALLEN: Every city we talked to said they're still hiring and plan to expand openings if they have the staff to do it.

This is not affecting every single pool and park. In our H2O, Oh obviously they're doing OK, they told us they have enough staff, Doug. Same thing in the city of Arlington. And in Fort Worth which told us it still needs some people but not to the point where it's going to affect the opening.