New Macon-Bibb lifeguards may mean pools open more days

The shortage of lifeguards at Macon-Bibb County’s public pools may soon be solved.

Eleven lifeguard candidates underwent training and testing Thursday and will finish getting certified Friday, officials with the Macon-Bibb County Recreation Department said.

Assuming enough of the candidates receive their certification, the department’s Assistant Director Reginald Moore said it should mean all five of the county’s pools being used this summer will be open five days a week instead of the staggered schedule currently in place because the county was eight lifeguards short when the pools opened this past week.

Thursday, the candidates trained at the East Macon Community Center pool, currently the only pool open five days a week in the county.

Moore said his office should know by Monday how and if the pool schedule would change. Assuming all five pools open daily, the schedules -- 1-6 p.m. on weekdays, noon-3 p.m. on Saturdays -- would remain the same.

Candidates had to demonstrate they could swim a certain distance, tread water for a certain length of time and retrieve a brick from the bottom of the pool. Later in the day, instructors Rachel Taylor and Shalyse Moreland gave them first aid lessons that included recognizing the signs of sunburn and heat stroke as well as bandaging wounds.

“This is (American) Red Cross training,” Moore said, adding that lifeguard training includes CPR, first aid and the use of defibrillators.

Moore said there hasn’t been an incident at a Macon-Bibb public pool requiring a 911 call in three years. The last time there was an incident, Moore said, it was at Memorial Pool when the lifeguard program was outsourced. He said that event was a reason the department wanted in-house lifeguards.

Robert Murphy, 22, a Middle Georgia State College student, said Thursday he was getting the certification because he wanted to work outdoors.

“You get to be in the sun,” he said. “I knew an employee of the city, and he told me I could (get the training). It’s a relaxed schedule.”

Ashton Martin, 18, who recently moved to Macon, said she previously tried to get the training but wasn’t able to complete it. This year, she is trying again and thought about the possibility of having to employ one of the techniques she is learning.

“It (makes me) nervous, but it’s also exciting,” she said. “You know how to save someone’s life.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.