RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Parks and Recreation reported a lifeguard shortage as they opened four pools for the Memorial Day weekend. Now, less than two months later, the city said they have an “abundance” of lifeguards.
In May, CBS 6 shared Jerrod Booker’s plea for help to staff the city’s pools during a nationwide lifeguard shortage. The city’s nine pools each require seven staff to operate, including five lifeguards, a head lifeguard and a pool manager.
On Tuesday, Booker shared the good news. The help arrived shortly after our story aired.
“Thank you first and foremost for doing that story for us,” city recreation services supervisor Booker said. “But since then, we’ve had a world of help come in. We’ve got an outpouring of people applying online. We are right now vetting through more and more applications.”
Booker estimated they’ve hired at least 60 lifeguards since May. He also reported the department’s highest number of new lifeguard hires in a decade.
His team targeted the city’s teenagers to fill positions.
“We got into the community. We worked with George Wythe High School. We worked with Thomas Jefferson High School and Franklin Military Academy. We got into the community. We trained kids. We taught them to swim. We taught them how to become lifeguards and we raised the pay,” Booker explained.
Base pay for a city lifeguard increased to $17 an hour, with the opportunity to make more than $19 an hour.
The pools are a lifeline for many during these hot months.
“These are critical resources for those who aren’t able to cool off at home,” Booker stated.
Other localities, like Petersburg, continue to struggle with the shortage.
Petersburg city opened their pool for families on Tuesday. Typically, three to four lifeguards are staffed and on-duty.
The city has also increased pay to $17 an hour to be competitive with neighboring jurisdictions fighting for the same workforce.