The number of lifeguards at the Hay River swimming pool is in good shape, in fact better than it has been for years.
“We’re practically fully staffed in terms of lifeguards right now,” said Mike Scott, the aquatics supervisor at the pool. “And I think, from my understanding, it’s been a while since it has been like that. We’re in a pretty good position right now.”
That is the result of what Scott described as a “flurry” of training courses in October and November.
The aquatics supervisor explained that a full staff of lifeguards is important for the swimming pool.
“There needs to be a certain amount of staff on at all times,” he said. “So it allows us to have the correct amount of staff and to be open during the hours that we want to be open. So the early morning swims and the evening swims and the stuff during the day.”
Scott noted the recent courses also mean there is not really more lifeguard training needed at the moment.
“We’re pretty much good for now,” he said. “The only other thing that we would want to do is probably run an instructor course for taking swimming lessons.”
Scott said the recent training included a number of different courses, usually held over weekends.
There was a combined course for Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross, the first courses taken by would-be lifeguards.
Another course was Standard First Aid.
“And then there was the NL, which just stands for National Lifeguard, and that’s the standard for lifeguarding across Canada,” said Scott. “So anyone who’s a lifeguard has to have that certification. So they ran that as well. And we had a couple of staff go through that.”
There were eight or nine participants for each of the courses.
Some of the participants already work at the pool, and there were also six participants who don’t work there, Scott noted. “So we’ve got a good little pool to draw from when we need to look at doing some more hiring there.”
The training courses were guided by Heather Tybring, and offered with the assistance of the Alberta and Northwest Territories Branch of the Lifesaving Society.
One of the participants was Gavyn Lamoureux, who took a First Aid course over a weekend in October and the National Lifeguard course over two weekends in November.
“I passed the courses and everything, so I meet the requirements to be a lifeguard,” he said. “I’m technically considered a senior lifeguard, but I’m like the less experienced one.”
The 17-year-old student at Ecole Boreale had previously been a junior lifeguard.
He began lifeguarding this past summer at the Hay River Beach, where the service was offered under an arrangement between the Town of Hay River and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
Lamoureux said the recent training taught him a lot and was a refresher from when he did his Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross courses.
“And it also proved to myself I could actually do it,” he said.
Lamoureux, who works at the pool on a casual basis, said the training involved quite a few things, including learning rescue skills and demonstrating the swimming ability required to be a lifeguard.
Scott noted the swimming pool has eight lifeguards right now, not including himself.
“So we have a head lifeguard, a senior lifeguard and then some casuals,” he said. “We’re not doing too, too bad for staff right now.”
Scott said lifeguards keep members of the public safe when they are using swimming pools.
“So they’re obviously for doing rescues and recognizing unsafe situations,” he said. “So it just makes the pool that much of a safer place.”
Scott, who started his job as aquatics supervisor in early November, noted the lifeguard training was underway when he arrived.
Some of the training had been planned earlier in the year, but was delayed when concerns over Covid-19 shut the pool from March to when it reopened on Nov. 9.