By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
Over the summer, many communities nationwide struggled with a shortage of lifeguards at pools and beaches.
In North Attleborough, Parks and Recreation Director Steve Carvalho was able to get ahead of this problem by working with the Make A Splash Foundation. The nonprofit recently provided reimbursements of $250 for the lifeguards at the World War II Memorial Pool to cover the costs of their training. He hopes to continue this in the years to come.
“Nationally there is a lifeguard shortage, we’ve been OK the last couple of years,” said Carvalho. “But we did see this trend coming.”
Carvalho is part of the Massachusetts Park and Recreation Association and the New England Park and Recreation Association, and there have been discussions about the lifeguard shortage. He said this began in California and began to spread east. When he heard of beaches in New Jersey having similar troubles, he knew the shortage had arrived.
“We haven’t had a real issue, but we’re trying to be proactive,” he said. “Young adults have a lot more options in life.”
Carvalho said the 10-15 lifeguards that work at the pool each summer have to complete training in CPR, swimming distances and carrying weights, and methods to watch the pool. Classes are held at the United Way or the YMCA.
“At the end, we’re getting someone who understands, not only practical, not only the physical part of it, it’s the mental part,” said Carvalho.
The Make a Splash Foundation helps raise money to assist the pool with several fundraisers throughout the year. Carvalho said the town fully funds the pool, but for a time this was not the case, and for years the foundation supported approximately 30 percent of the pool’s costs.
According to the town web site, the World War II Memorial Pool was dedicated in 1951, one of eight similar pools constructed across the United States. North Attleborough’s World War II Memorial Pool was made possible from funds provided by the veterans as a way of giving back to the town they had served.
Adjacent to the pool complex is a large granite stone with a bronze plaque that reads, “in honor of the citizens of the town of North Attleborough who served in World War II.” Beneath that are the names of 49 men who died in service, as well as the name of several hundred more veterans who served and lived to return to North Attleborough.
The Park and Recreation Department took over the operation of the pool in 2006. On July 24, 2008, there was a ceremony to rededicate the pool to the North Attleborough veterans whose generosity led to the construction of the World War II Memorial Pool.
Carvalho described the pool as a melting pot for the community. Many of the lifeguards are from North Attleborough. Some return year after year, with one belonging to a family that has worked at the pool for four generations. In addition to monitoring the pool, lifeguards also teach swimming and safety lessons to the children. The town’s beaches have lifeguards as well, but these are contracted out, and Carvalho added there have been no issues filling these positions.
“We thank the community for using the pool,” said Carvalho. “We’re lucky that our town fully funds the pool but it’s something that Make A Splash has gone over and above. We’re really lucky to have them.”