The heat is on, and so is the demand for lifeguards.
At a time when the American Red Cross says many pools across the country are lacking trained guards, the agency's Augusta chapter reports it is almost overwhelmed with requests for lifeguard training courses. "We're turning people away because our classes are basically full," said Diane Lariscy, the chapter's director of health and safety.
The local challenge is a lack of trained instructors, she said. Currently, the Red Cross has 11 active lifeguard instructors - not enough to meet the demand.
Because the Red Cross is the only area organization that offers such training, many people looking for a summer job as a lifeguard might have a difficult time getting certification.
Augusta Aquatic Center Director Roger Wexler said his lifeguard staff rises from about 15 in the offseason to about 28 in summer. He said the center is always in need of more guards. "We think we do all right, but we can always use more, particularly with young people," he said.
It takes a "very dedicated volunteer" to teach the 321/4-hour lifeguard training class, Ms. Lariscy said.
"Because we only have a limited number of LGI's (lifeguard instructors) that's what limits our classes," she said. "But being able to maintain nine classes plus two review classes, that's pretty good."
To recruit more instructors, the Red Cross will hold a 28-hour, eight-day training course at the Family Y on Wheeler Road beginning Tuesday. Participants must be at least 17 and pay the $120 entry fee.
Two more basic lifeguard training classes are planned for the summer. No date has been set because Ms. Lariscy said she is having difficulty lining up instructors who can teach when the pool time is available.
Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lifeguard instructor classes will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through May 18 and from 9 a.m. to noon May 19 at the Family Y on Wheeler Road.
Attendance at each session is required for certification. For more information, contact the Augusta chapter of the American Red Cross at (706) 724-8181.