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Need for lifeguards in southern Alberta pools – Lethbridge

As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced swimming pools to close, it has also suspended lifeguard training classes.

Doug Sanders, director and operator of Cardston Swimming Pool in southern Alberta, said pools in the province are still struggling to keep lifeguards on staff.

“The crisis is not just here in Alberta, but across North America,” he said.

READ MORE: Shortage of lifeguards could be dangerous for Manitoba swimmers, society says

This also includes Lethbridge. According to Sunni Belle, general manager of Recreation Excellence for Lethbridge, lifeguard training courses in the city have almost reached capacity in the past six months. Yet the problems lie in getting people to become certified.

“From start to finish, (getting certified) can take years,” she said. “If you’re 16 and a go-getter, I’d say four to six months, depending on how many classes you can find and how much time you have.”

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Regulations in Alberta require a lifeguard to watch approximately 40 swimmers. Belle said Henderson Pool alone needs at least 18 lifeguards per shift.

“If we don’t have fully staffed pools, it’s not safe for the public,” she said. “You must take your first aid; you need your bronze cross; you need your lifeguard courses (and) water safety courses to be able to give swimming lessons.

“There are a host of courses you have to take to become a lifeguard. It doesn’t happen overnight. »

Russ Tanner, director of recreation and community services for the town of Coaldale, said he doesn’t expect the shortages to continue long-term.

“I think as we get back up and more classes are around us and more kids get certified, (the shortage) will be fixed,” Tanner said.

Joanna Jones, director of operations for the YMCA of Lethbridge, said her goal is to increase the number of classes offered and train more people in water safety.

“We need to get people back into our pools to swim and learn to swim to prevent people of all skill levels from drowning in our communities,” she said.

Anyone interested in becoming a certified lifeguard can enroll in courses through the Lifesaving Society.

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