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Austin Councilmember Paige Ellis working with parks and recreation to address lifeguard shortage

The City is looking to fill hundreds of open positions and Ellis said she will sponsor a resolution to look for ways to hire and keep lifeguards.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin City Councilmember Paige Ellis is working with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to address the lifeguard shortage so that city pools can open at full capacity this summer.

Ellis is attending a hiring fair at the South Austin Senior Activity Center on Friday as the City works to hire hundreds of lifeguards to fill positions.

She also announced last week that she is sponsoring a resolution to consider strategies to incentivize lifeguard recruitment and retention, along with other seasonal employees.

"Swimming is synonymous with summer. If we can’t hire enough lifeguards for the season, Austinites will not have access to our local pools,” Ellis said in a release. “For the past two years, many pools have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related supply chain and contractor challenges. Now that repairs and improvements have been completed, the only remaining impediment to opening our pools is fully staffing them with trained lifeguards.”

Last month, the City said it had 95 lifeguards on staff but it needs 650. 

RELATED: City of Austin hiring hundreds of lifeguards for summer 2022

PARD recently launched a campaign to recruit lifeguards and other seasonal employees and announced they'll offer $500 bonuses as an incentive to stay on for the entire summer. Ellis hopes to amplify the hiring and retention efforts underway, help identify other funding and clear any barriers that might exist in the hiring process. 

"If a swimmer goes underwater or gets hurt at a pool, lifeguards are the first responders who are there to take control of emergency situations before EMS arrives,” Ellis, a former lifeguard herself, said. “When your child, your friend or your family member is in trouble, those critical seconds can be the difference between life and death.”

Applicants must be 15 years old or older and submit an online application through the City of Austin Jobs website. Starting pay is $15 an hour.

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