Depending on the day, two town beaches are closed. Grinnell’s Beach is off-limits due to an ongoing construction project and Fogland Beach because of a lifeguard shortage. The town can’t get enough lifeguards for three days a week – even though the pay is $14. On those days, it’s swim at your own risk.
Currently, the town employs two lifeguards and is hoping a third will join the team after taking a test at the end of the month.
American Lifeguard Association Spokesman Wyatt Werneth tells ABC6 News there is a lifeguard shortage nationwide. "I think young adults today work for the same pay or close to the same pay, they could go bag groceries at Publix or flip burgers, and they don't have to do all the testings and the examinations and the strenuous work."
Second Beach in Middletown, meanwhile, is fully-staffed and has high retention rates, according to the beach manager.
"It's intense to get certified, it's costly to get certified, but once you do and once you find a beach that is willing to be there for you and back you up, it's worth staying," explained Lifeguard Christine Woolbright.
Middletown’s competitive lifeguard rates don’t hurt either, but since not every area has bountiful budget, Werneth has another idea to attract future leaders: "We have more lifeguard academies and certifications…they give them college credits and they move on and can move anywhere in the United States and get a job already certified. We're kind of missing the gap there. We need to treat it like a professional EMS system."