Severe lifeguard shortage at YMCAs across Inland Northwest

SPOKANE, Wash. — One of the largest recreation centers in the Inland Northwest is still hiring lifeguards, in the middle of summer.

The YMCA of the Inland Northwest is down about 30 lifeguards from 2019.

“We’ve definitely had to limit the hours that they’re open, so we aren’t able to have the pools open for our members the whole time our buildings are open, because of the staffing shortage,” said Christine Brischle, Vice President of Membership and Operations for the YMCA INW.

The Central Spokane YMCA pool closes an hour and a half before the building does and the Spokane Valley outdoor pools can’t all be open at the same time.

“We typically have over 70 lifeguards for the outdoor pools, right now we have 42,” Brischle said

Anne Barker, who brings her kids to swim lessons has noticed the lack of lifeguards at her local YMCA.

“It would be nice if the play structures were open, more hours, if there were more lifeguards available for that, to come, and to have somewhere else to go for summer activities,” Barker said.

Anyone 15 years or older can apply to be a lifeguard, but they do have to go through a month-long training course to become one.

“Our goal really is to be open as much as possible and we’re working on it, but we still need the community to rally and bring in some more lifeguards,” Brischle added.

The lifeguard training program costs $200 with a membership and $250 without. The YMCA does reimburse the full amount if you get hired as a lifeguard and work for 60 days at the YMCA.

You can apply to be a YMCA lifeguard here.

READ: Summer camps seeing staffing shortages this year