OKC Parks And Recreation Department Adjusting To Lifeguard Shortage

The Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department is adding another item to the list of things hard to come by since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic: lifeguards.

Wednesday, June 15th 2022, 5:29 pm



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The Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department is adding another item to the list of things hard to come by since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic: lifeguards.

A staffing shortage has the aquatic center’s supervisor stepping in as a lifeguard.

“It seems like after COVID, there has been a shortage of lifeguards everywhere,” OKC Parks and Recreation Department chief public information officer Robert Culverhouse said. “We have seen it in our neighboring cities and in other states.”

The department said it has 51 lifeguards on staff, which is barely keeping its heads above water for the summer.

“Ideally, we would like to have about 80 people on staff,” Culverhouse said. “That allows us to operate all of our family aquatic centers and family pools at 100%. The minimal staffing is 50 lifeguards available.”

Culverhouse said the low staffing doesn’t account for people taking sick or vacation days.

“What we’ve done is we’ve shut down our aquatic centers and our pools on Mondays, which didn’t impact our residents too much as those are low attendance days anyway,” Culverhouse said.

The department hopes increasing pay will bring in more applicants.

“Some of the things we’ve done to offset that is we increased minimum salary to $13 an hour, so we feel that is competitive to attract people to the pools this summer,” Culverhouse said.

The hiring process can last for approximately a week, according to Culverhouse.

“To be a lifeguard, you must go through a lifeguard certification process. It is actually the red cross certification process,” Culverhouse said. “To become a supervisor, you must go through the water safety instructor course.”

The city is waiving the certification costs for everyone they can hire as lifeguards. 

If you’d like to apply to be a lifeguard, you can do so on the city’s website.

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