Cities rush to train lifeguard recruits so pools can open for summer
By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader |
June 24. 2014 8:06PM
Lifeguard Deanna Nickerson of Candia monitors swimmers at Livingston Pool in Manchester on opening day Tuesday. (MICHAEL COUSINEAU/UNION LEADER)
A shortage of certified lifeguards led Concord to open three city pools a few days late, while the same problem in Manchester means delaying the opening of Dupont Pool on the West Side for about a week.
Tuesday meant opening day for two city-run pools, including Livingston Pool, where 12-year-old Julien Amirault waited patiently in line.
“If the pool wasn’t opened, I’d be using my phone all day,” the boy said on the 80-plus-degree afternoon.
Manchester is short 15 lifeguards from its normal complement of 33, so it chose to keep Dupont Pool on Mason Street closed until the middle of next week because it is the least-used of the four city pools, according to Andy Vachon, Manchester’s recreation enterprise manager.
“Dupont is not opening because we don’t have enough qualified lifeguards to staff all of our facilities safely,” Vachon said.
Vachon suspects the lifeguard certification cost of $275 kept some people from applying this year. The city is offering to pay half the cost if the lifeguard stays the whole season. The city is paying lifeguards $13.70 an hour.
“Generally, we go through a cycle of lifeguards,” Vachon said. “They start with us as a high school senior and we keep them for a couple years of college. I don’t know if we were at the end of a cycle.”
That happened in Concord, where Recreation Supervisor Laura Bryant said lifeguards generally stay for between four and six years.
“We’re starting a fresh batch,” she said.
A shortage of a dozen lifeguards in Concord meant the Merrill, Kimball and Garrison pools opened Monday rather than Saturday after new recruits gained their certification, she said.
Vachon said a three-day lifeguard certification will run through Sunday, so he hopes Dupont Pool can open around the middle of next week. A dozen people signed up this week, with 18 the maximum capacity for the certification class.
An unrelated problem with a motor meant Hunt Pool in Manchester will open today, a day later than planned. The Raco Theodore Pool on Head Street also opened Tuesday.
Amy Bassett, public information officer at the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, said lifeguards work at about a dozen state parks. There were no delayed openings, but there remained lifeguard openings at a handful of parks, including at Hampton Beach.
City officials closed Crystal Lake beach to swimming on Tuesday, after elevated levels of E.coli bacteria were found during routine sampling, the Manchester Health Department said.
Once levels drop to acceptable, the city will reopen the beach, officials said.
Vachon said the city has not staffed Crystal Lake with lifeguards.