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Lifeguard shortage affects Tampa Bay area

Lithia Springs Conservation Park working with half of lifeguard staff
Posted at 3:49 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 17:28:26-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — School is out, the temperatures are high, and people are looking for ways to cool off.

As many families hit the beaches or water parks they may notice a staple is missing — lifeguards are at an all-time low.

Bernard Fisher with the American Lifeguard Association said this is the worst shortage he has seen in his time.

Pre-pandemic he said the organization would train roughly 300,000 people to serve as lifeguards every year.

As a result of the pandemic and closures that number was cut in half and even as the world has opened back up the applications to become a lifeguard remain bleak.

Fisher said the occupation that once appealed to a younger crowd isn't as appealing anymore. Add that with non-competitive pay and he said you have a recipe for disaster.

He said some city pools across the country are lowering their lifeguard standards simply to remain open.

The lifeguard shortage is taking its toll in the Tampa Bay area as well.

Alvin Nisbett is the aquatic director at Lithia Springs Conservation Park. Ideally, he would like to have a staff of sixteen lifeguards, but currently, he only has eight.

"It has been somewhat of a challenge and we hope to correct that," Nisbett said.

Despite the shortage, he said people who visit are in good hands.

"I am here so I am usually down here at the spring and if not we are going to have rangers posted on the outside if anything does happen they will be able to respond," Nisbett said.

Parents like Jeslyn Navarro and her friend Autumn Chang brought their kids to the spring to cool off. They said the lack of guards is concerning.

"The body of water is bigger than our kids so we have to be extra cautious," Navarro said.

She makes sure to have extra parents and life jackets when she heads to any body of water with her three little ones.

"So, just having that extra sense of you know precaution and somebody else having a second eye," Chang said.

Other counties like Manatee and Pinellas are feeling the pain too. Staff at the pools and beaches are hoping a pay incentive will help fill the gap.

For more information on lifeguard jobs and the American Lifeguard Association visit: