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Milwaukee County needs more lifeguards this summer

Posted at 10:13 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 23:13:46-05

MILWAUKEE — Summer may seem far off, but Milwaukee County is actively trying to recruit more lifeguards.

After a shortage last summer, officials say the county needs more guards this year or some pools may not open.

"Milwaukee County needs you," said Milwaukee County Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman. "At the end of the day, we need you to open up our pools, to open up our beaches. We have summer coming, and we really want to have a safe environment."

The county Parks Department told TMJ4 News in 2021 there were 85 lifeguards. Between Covid-19 and staffing, they didn't open nine pools and didn't staff beaches.

As of right now, the county has 80 guards for this upcoming summer. An official says the county is budgeted to open as many as seven pools, depending on how many guards are hired.

Beaches will not be closed, but they may not have guards this summer.

"It's critical, and we're really worried," Wasserman said.

To apply, you must be at least 16 years old by July 2022, in good physical condition, and be able to swim 100 meters in less than one minute and 45 seconds. The starting wage is $15.82 per hour.

Lifeguards like Becca Hahn say it's a chance to make a difference. She says she became a lifeguard 10 years ago, and her dedication hasn't wavered.

"I care about the community that we serve, that's what it comes down to," Hahn said.

According to the CDC, there are close to 4,000 fatal drownings nationwide each year. It says it's the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in kids ages 1 to 14.

"Drownings can happen a lot quicker than people realize," Hahn said. "We are so highly trained to recognize those early signs of people in distress who need help."

"At the end of the day, lifeguarding is a life-changing job," Wasserman said. "When you do your first jump and you save somebody's life, you're never the same person afterwards. This is a great job to have, it pays well, and it's responsibility."

The county is offering two more training sessions in the next few weeks.

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