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Lifeguard shortage could keep pools from reaching level of safety we demand

Pay for lifeguards is going up, benefits and signing bonuses are being offered to help staff area pools

ST. LOUIS — Pools are set to open and families are planning vacations to the beach, but who will be there protecting you if a water rescue is needed? 

A lifeguard shortage is being felt coast to coast and companies are stepping up to staff their pools to prevent a shutdown. 

"We definitely have noticed a slight downtick in applicants applying for this summer," says Zachary Harrison, Lifetime Frontenac Aquatics Manager. "It's something that we usually don't see as much."

Lifetime tells 5 On Your Side they do have enough staffing to open to their members and guests this weekend, but they are not at full capacity, which would be 40-50 lifeguards. They pay $11.50 an hour and pay for 30 hours of training, which will take place online and in person.  

Harrison says, "They're learning all the different rescue techniques, how to save someone in the water whether that be active drowning; passive, how to do spinals, everything and anything to provide all that is needed until emergency personnel and EMS arrives."

At area pools on both sides of the river, we are seeing some companies offer higher wages and even signing bonuses up to $200. Lifetime tells us they are not only offering the training, but a complimentary membership, which is over $150 a month.

Safety is the utmost concern, and Harrison says enrolling your children in swim lessons will help with their safety. Although lifeguards will be keeping an eye on your family, always remember how busy a holiday weekend gets, and to do our part and ensure you know where your kids are at all times.