2003-03-08 / Community

Summer Lifeguard Process Begins

City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., Chairman of the Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee announced that he held a hearing last Friday, February 28 on the status of the recruitment of lifeguards for the city’s parks, beaches and pools.

Addabbo said the major issues of concern to him that he would be exploring at the hearing included the recruitment, training and management of lifeguards at pools and beaches and other safety related issues.

Testimony at the hearing brought out the following information: The City has 53 outdoor swimming pools, 10 indoor swimming pools and 14 miles of beach property. In 2002, a total of 984 lifeguards were employed at the city’s swimming pools and beaches, with beach lifeguards generally working from May 25 through Labor Day.

According to the Parks Department lifeguards work 48 hours each week and first-year lifeguards earn $10.08 an hour.

In the summer of 2002, approximately 1.4 million people visited the 53 outdoor pools and 10 million people visited the City’s beaches.

Since January 13, the Parks Depar-tment has offered the qualifying training examination Monday through Fri-day at 4:00 PM at the West 59th Street Recreational Center in Manhattan. An additional training facility will be Far Rockaway High School. In order to qualify for the training, a person must (1) be able to swim 50 yards in 35 seconds, (2) have a minimum of 20/30 vision in one eye and 20/40 in the other eye, and (3) be at least 16 years old when they start working.

Before beginning the 15-week training class, which includes lessons on basic swimming skills, rescue techniques and CPR, a candidate must present a certificate of good health from a doctor and complete a 40-hour CPR course.

"I held this hearing to prepare for our upcoming beach and pool season," Addabbo stated. "With some hard work, the city will be able to recruit and provide enough lifeguards for our resident’s safety."

Commissioner Adriene Benepe of the Parks Department testified that each year they work hard to recruit qualified candidates to train as lifeguards. They noted that their 2002 campaign was particularly successful in hiring more qualified candidates than they did in prior years. They also said that for the first time they hired international lifeguards that helped ensure the safety of millions of beach and pool goers.

The Parks Department also noted they have an outreach effort working with the Public School Athletic League and have been in contact with all New York City High School athletic directors and swim team members about summer lifeguard opportunities.

In addition to the outreach efforts they said they are continuing many proven recruitment efforts such as lifeguard posters and flyers mailed to all public and private high schools, swim teams, Boys and Girls Clubs, community boards and elected officials.

Parks’ officials said they have run advertisements in the daily newspapers and aired a public service an-nouncement on a local radio station.

According to the officials their efforts have resulted in over 1,600 calls to their lifeguard hotline at 212-830-7880.

Commissioner Benepe said that as the 2003 beach and pool season app-roaches they are optimistic that their aggressive recruitment campaign will pay off. "We hope that the City Council will assist us in finding experienced lifeguards, and promoting physical activity, especially swimming, among the City’s youth," the commissioner stated.

For answers to further questions regarding lifeguards, please call Councilman Addabbo’s office at 718-318-6411.

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