Lifeguards Throw In TheTowel For Higher Wages

Hold on to your life-savers...the American Red Cross says there's a national life-guard shortage.

The shortage continues because more lifeguards are trading their swimsuits and shades for higher pay-checks and less-stressful jobs.

Though East Texas pools have plenty of lifeguards this summer, lifeguard trainers say the turnover rate is still high.

At first glance, life guarding looks easy, but in actuality, many lifeguards are calling it quits due to on-the-job stress.

The pressure often gets to young lifeguards says 18-year old lifeguard Robin Squyres.

"I have other friends that are doing different jobs. If they have a bad day at work its because the cash register doesn't work or their manager is mad at them for something. If I have a bad day at work, it's because a kid nearly bled to death on my shift or something like that."

Aaron Stagner, assistant managing lifeguard at Tyler Swim and Tennis agrees.

"When you take a job as a lifeguard, you have to understand that there is a lot of responsibility into it," said Stagner. "The younger kids coming up, they may not want that burden.

The threat of lawsuits and parents leaving kids alone at the pool without supervision are other factors concerning lifeguards, said Stagner.

Robin Squyres has even seen a few leave for easier work.

"I know a lot of people who used to be lifeguards and now work in retail and stuff. There's a lot of responsibility involved in life guarding, and there's a lot of pressure, and sometimes you just don't feel like doing it anymore," said Squyres.

Lifeguard trainer and American Red Cross volunteer Chuck Roper has trained lifeguards for fifteen years. He says low wages are another reason lifeguards throw in the towel.

"A lifeguard sees there's other things out there with less stress and equivalent pay," said Roper from his Divers Depot dive shop. So, they tend to opt for more pay less stress."

Chuck's classes are still full, but lifeguard turnover rates are higher than ever.

"I'm getting new classes, but its just new faces," Roper said. "There's not many people going the classes that are being re-certified to continue lifeguarding."

Roper says most pools around East Texas are fully-staffed. But, if more lifeguards dive into other job opportunities, America's classic summertime job may be a thing of the past.