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Lifeguard shortage leaves Bradford Beach unsupervised for the third year in a row

Posted at 9:18 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 23:16:55-04

MILWAUKEE — Summer is right around the corner and Bradford Beach is set to open Saturday for the season, however, there will be no lifeguards on duty due to staffing shortages.

For the third year in a row, the beach will go unsupervised.

"Beach lifeguards are a specialty and we just don't have any at this time that we can safely watch and maintain Bradford beach," said Milwaukee County Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman.

It's a challenge across the country. According to the American Lifeguard Association, the shortage could shut down 1/3 of public pools in the U.S. this summer.

In Milwaukee County, the county had a goal of hiring 200 or more lifeguards for 2022 and they even increased pay to start at $15.82 an hour, but not much changed.

"We have trouble. We only have 60 people hired," said Wasserman.

Compare that to 2021 when the county had recruited less than 100 lifeguards. They eventually were forced to close eight of its 12 pools and leave beaches unsupervised.

"I'm having my fellow colleagues on the board that all want to open up their pools in their areas but we don't have guards," Wasserman said.

The shortage poses a huge safety risk with drowning being one of the leading causes of death for children, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The county is still hiring up until July, but candidates must be previously trained to be considered. They continue to urge anyone who does not know how to swim to not go into the lake.

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