ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — More sunshine means more pool time! But with New York experiencing a lifeguard shortage, how exactly is the state helping New Yorkers stay safe in the water?
For starters, Governor Hochul has taken measures to alleviate the lifeguard shortage at beaches and pools by increasing wages for state lifeguards. At upstate facilities, lifeguards will see a wage increase from $15 to $20 an hour. And downstate facilities, $18.15 an hour to $22 an hour.
Craig Roopchand is founder of Gateway Sports & Pools and lifeguard instructor for the American Red Cross. He hopes the wage increase will help alleviate some of the expenses associated with becoming a lifeguard. “The price range is anywhere from $350 and up just to become a lifeguard in the state of New York and then they have to pay every year to renew their CPR and AED certification, so that’s also costs on the student as well,” he said.
On top of that, there are extensive physical requirements needed to pass certification. According to New York State Parks and Recreation Department, the current certification process includes a 200 yard swim in four minutes or less using crawl or breast stroke, a 20 yard underwater swim, a surface dive and recovery simulating an underwater search and recovery for a victim and CPR.
Roopchand says another issue lifeuards face is unruly people, “They aggressively do attack the lifeguards, that’s one of the things we struggle with to have proper communication and enforce the rules without older adults aggressively attacking the lifeguards for just enforcing the rules.”
Governor Hochul also implemented a digital recruitment campaign to gain lifeguard employment.