Helena pool hires full lifeguard team amid nationwide shortage

Nolan Lister

Amid a nationwide shortage of lifeguards, Helena’s recent increase of seasonal worker pay helped the city fully staff its municipal pool for the summer.

Last Chance Splash Waterpark and Pool’s full slate of amenities, including the Lazy River and splash deck, will be operational every day, a welcome return for swimmers whose touchstone of an American summer had been diminished in recent years in response to the pandemic and staffing shortages.

The New York Times reported June 9 that a shortage of lifeguards has left tens of thousands of pools closed and beaches unguarded across the nation, including in Cincinnati where the city government only managed to hire enough staff to open eight of its 23 pools, and Austin, Texas, where only half the lifeguard positions are filled.

During an April 11 Helena City Commission meeting, the body approved seasonal temporary employee pay matrix, setting a minimum hourly wage for such workers of $15.

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According to Helena Parks, Recreation and Open Lands Department Recreation Program Manager Kait Perrodin, that approval resulted in a fairly substantial bump in pay to many of the pool’s employees, some

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