City officials are trying to address the shortage of lifeguards at Baltimore swimming pools

BALTIMORE– A nationwide lifeguard shortage is affecting about a third of public pools nationwide, including some right here in Baltimore.

The city’s Recreation and Parks Department attempted to circumvent the issue this summer.

But officials warn of the dangers that come with it.

“It affects our abilities,” said assistant director of recreation Karen Jordan.

While some pools and paddling pools have closed completely, others have been forced to operate at restricted hours.

“We allow a certain number of swimmers depending on how many lifeguards we have,” Jordan said.

She said the reason was to ensure the safety of all pool visitors.

“I understand they want to swim but…it’s very dangerous to swim without lifeguards on duty,” Jordan said.

Another problem is the limited hours.

“Unfortunately, we have experienced break-ins at our aquatic facilities after hours,” Jordan said.

Last month, Baltimore police used their helicopter, commonly known as a Foxtrot, to order swimmers out of the Patterson Park pool.

A few weeks later, a 15-year-old boy was hospitalized after nearly drowning at the Roosevelt Park pool around 9:30 p.m.

“The fence over there is there to keep everyone safe…to keep people safe,” Jordan said. “If someone has an emergency without lifeguards present, it’s a life or death situation and we don’t want people getting hurt or drastically passing our pools.”

The department is doing everything it can to fill its lifeguard vacancies, Jordan said. She will be recruiting throughout the year as she does not want to face the same problem next year.

“We have increased the salaries of lifeguards and we have also added an incentive for lifeguards for a bonus,” she said.


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