Lifeguards in short supply | News, Sports, Jobs



NEW ULM — Worker shortages are common across the county, but one specific shortage could limit summertime activities: lifeguards.

New Ulm Park and Recreation offers lifeguard training classes every year and usually has between 10 and 12 students in class. This year’s training class begins June 8, but only a single person has registered.

Lifeguard training is required for anyone looking to apply for a lifeguard position. As pools and aquatic centers prepare to open this summer, facilities are finding it a challenge to staff them with the necessary number of lifeguards.

“This is a real public safety problem nationwide,” New Ulm Assistant Park and Recreation Director Cheryl Kormann said.

The reason for the current shortage is the certification process necessary to be a lifeguard and the COVID pandemic.

Kormann explained the certification necessary to be a lifeguard requires 30 hours of training. This is group training and individuals are unable to miss or reschedule a class. Taking 30 hours of training is also difficult for an individual with a busy schedule.

Lifeguard certification is valid for two years, after which a lifeguard must take recertification classes. If they fail to get recertified in two years, the lifeguard will need to take the entire 30-hour class again. Since the COVID pandemic shut down nearly all pools and aquatic centers last year, many were unable to be recertified and their certifications lapsed.

This comes at a difficult time for the New Ulm Park and Recreation Department, which needs additional lifeguards.

“The aquatic center offers fun new amenities,” Kormann said, “but with the new amenities come extra requirements.”

The new aquatic center at the recreational center will require seven lifeguards to operate at full capacity. The previous pool required four lifeguards.

In the past, Ppark and Recreation have been able to train and hire lifeguards from the three New Ulm area high schools as well as Martain Luther College students; though Kormann said they are willing to hire adults. Many teachers with the summertime off will seek part-time work.

Lifeguards hired by park and recreation will be working in a new state-of-the-art aquatic center. Kormann said working as a lifeguard is a fun, challenging and rewarding job.

“You have to be a responsible individual and make split-second decisions,” she said, “the job teaches you leadership, teamwork and dealing with customers.”

New Ulm is currently seeking to hire certified lifeguards. Applicants must be at least 15 years old and have a current American Red Cross Lifeguard certification and/or Water Safety Instruction certification.

If interested individuals do not have this certification, park and recreation will be offering the necessary training Tuesday, June 8.

Kormann said those registering for the training will need to take an online pre-test before taking the training. Between five and seven hours of learning courses are required before starting the class.

Other lifeguard training classes are expected to be offered in other communities throughout the summer. Kormann said other facilities need lifeguards and will also offer training this summer, including Lake Crystal Area Rec Center.

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