The Lifeguard Shortage Is Not Ending


The United States, you may have heard, is in need of defenders. City of Houston is offering new savers a $500 bonus. Jackson, Mississippiit is increasing the salary of saving people by more than 40 percent. Colorado and “up” by $250,000 for hiring rescue workers; in it, adults they are filling up. According to the American Lifeguard Association, about half of all public swimming pools in the country will be eligible closing or reducing their hours this summer due to lack of staff.

The current shortage can be blamed on pandemic-related closures and job restrictions, according to reports. But if this is the reason for this year’s shortfall and what has been said in 2020, 2021, and 2022, it cannot explain the decline in national security. 2018, 2016or 2012. Or, because of this, there is a lack of security 1984. Or 1951. Or 1926.

These problems—and the newspaper stories that describe them—are as common in summer as picnics and ice cream. National or national articles on this subject have been published in May or June each year throughout the 1900s. Hundreds of other examples of this classic have been published since the 1930s. They all have one thing in common: Swimming season. can be interrupted; bruises can multiply. But few admit that such claims were made last year, and all the years before that. Indeed, the ravages of long, unprotected summers have plagued us for five generations now, almost as long as time. well trained security in America.

The reasons given for the shortage have varied over time. Now, of course, we have COVID. In the 1980s, government officials blamed Gen X: “It’s happening because there aren’t many 16-year-olds,” said one. The New York Times. In the 1950s, they blamed the IRS: “Many savers quit their jobs before they get $600 so their parents can claim them as tax dependents,” said Minneapolis. Star Tribune. In the 1940s, experts said that this recruitment affected so many young people in the country that, The Baltimore Sun, some beaches and pools “were seriously considering hiring women.” And in the 1930s, it was declining depending on on the absorption of potential defenders into the Works Progress Administration.

But overall, the reasons for the decline are incredibly repetitive and, in many cases, very historical.

The tough requirements for life safety – taking and paying for multi-day training to pass a tough physical exam – are again and again the scapegoat. So is minimum wage. In 1941, pool managers complained that undrafted young men were more likely to work in defense industries than as lifeguards. In 2007A New Jersey rescue operator complained to Time that “iPods and cell phones are expensive … If kids are looking for a high-paying job, it’s not going to be protective.” In the same story, a park director in Connecticut criticized the increase in job growth (and the same rise in internships). YMCA water safety specialist also mentioned internships, in 2021. Every time unemployment is low, someone blames it on the lack of protectors.

By far the most common description throughout the years can best be described as “kids today.” You see 1987: “The kids here have a lot of money.” And 2015: “There’s another big problem: having a cell phone in a public security facility is a shooting crime.” And 2019: “Some [teens] they are afraid even with the life-saving responsibility that the job has.” And 2022: “People don’t want to work like this.” And 2023: “Since COVID, people don’t want to work.” Wyatt Werneth, a national spokesman for the American Lifeguard Association, told me this week that, when the pandemic hit, potential lifeguards started choosing jobs that could be done at home, like “influence and social media and things like that.”

And then, of course, there’s the biggest problem of all: No one is watching lifeguards anymore. From The New York Times in 1984: “Lifeguards were originally people of authority, just like teachers were in the past. But the glory of the reign is gone.” In 1985and Time he fondly recalled the lifeguard movie of the ’50s and ’60s (Beach Blanket Bingo and his Ilk) and the veneration that inspired it before. Robert A. Kerwin, water conservation coordinator for the New Jersey State Division of Parks and Forestry, told the newspaper, “The day of the blindfolded lifeguard sitting in a chair strapping on his wrists is over. For one thing, 25 percent of our guards are girls.” (For what it’s worth, also cites a number of defense shortages from the ’50s and ’60s as well.)

The Time at one point he declared, “Human protectors are endangered animals.” But his people recovered for a while in the 1990s, thanks to David Hasselhoff. Werneth said: “When I became a lifeguard, we were there.” Baywatch, and everyone wanted to be a lifesaver. They wanted a life that had helicopters and speedboats and beautiful people, and you’re saving lives. ” But Baywatch: Hawaii it stopped production in 2001, and after that, Wernth told me, “things started to slow down.” Lifeguard work began to decline and then dived into the water starting in 2020. “I can call it zero,” Bernard Fisher, director of the American Lifeguard Association, he said about the decline in the 2022 Fox News story.

Despite the meaning of the metaphor (Fisher also compared the lack of protectors to the lack of milk for babies), drowning trees he didn’t really play. In fact, they are now a third of what they were in 1970, and have been in steady decline for a century or more. (There was a slight increase in 2020 and 2021, the most recent years for which data is available.) In other words, many of the past safety concerns — or perhaps one, chronic one — have not been linked to anything. the prevalence of drowning problems in America. This does not mean that the lack of protection is false, but the strength of their development remains unknown. Werneth told me that the American Lifeguard Association receives “incremental” reports from pools, parks, and beaches, and only knows about the need in different areas.

But if the guard is also an extinct animal, it was a favorite: like a giant panda than Gerlach’s cockroach. As a culture, we to do they still think of lifeguards as brave, courageous, and important (if not dominant). Baywatch it may be out of space, but it is all the time return.


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