Local lifeguard staffing numbers amid national shortage

On a nationwide level, many pools and beaches are in need of lifeguards. NC7's Claire Jones talked to some beach officials on what the numbers look like.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 6:59 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Across the country, pools and beaches are in desperate need of lifeguards.

At the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center, the facility’s Health and Safety Aquatic Specialist Dennis Kennedy said while they have enough staff to function, they still need more to handle the influx of visitors expected this summer.

“If we’re not staffed, we don’t have the lifeguards, we’re not safe,” Kennedy said. “Last year was a little [rougher], this year it’s gotten a little bit better but we’re still definitely looking for lifeguards, we need at least a dozen of them.”

Kennedy said they’ve already seen the need for more lifeguards this year.

“We were opened up for our Memorial Day opening event and we had six or seven savings. It happens on a daily basis,” he said.

While the PCB Aquatic Center and other local pools are still on the lookout for lifeguards this summer, Panama City Beach beach officials told NewsChannel 7 their staffing numbers are looking a bit different.

“I know nationally, it’s a thing. I’ve been keeping track with other directors and other agencies across the country. There is a shortage,” Daryl Paul, Panama City Beach Fire Rescue beach safety director, said. “But for us here at Panama City Beach, we’re very lucky. We do have some positions available, but for the most part, we’re sitting pretty good on our staffing.”

Paul told NewsChannel 7 while the agency is doing well so far this year with their lifeguard staffing, as the area and number of visitors continues to grow, they will have to continue expanding their workforce.

“We’re increasing our numbers, thanks to the generous funding from the TDC and the city, we’ve just got a solid foundation that’s built and developed and we’re just going to continue to build on that,” Kennedy said.

Over in Walton County, South Walton Fire District officials told NewsChannel 7 they are in the same boat. In fact, SWFD staff said they have more lifeguards than they have in years, with about 80% of their lifeguard positions filled.

Regardless of satisfactory staffing numbers, each facility and agency told NewsChannel 7 they are still hiring for lifeguard positions. All you need is to know how to swim. If you are interested in a lifeguard position in Panama City Beach, click here. If you are interested in a lifeguard position in south Walton County, click here.