ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston County Parks says the number of lifeguards they have is way down and now, they’re doing all they can to increase that number before summer arrives and beach and pool season is in full swing.

Charleston County Parks say they are on the lookout for lifeguards. 

“We’re definitely in a shortage of lifeguards,” Charleston County Parks safety program coordinator Kari Lavoie said. “We’re looking for as many as we can get.”

Charleston County Parks is looking for people 16 and up who are committed to helping swimmers stay safe in the ocean and pool.

“Ocean rescue guards do have a prerequisite swim test and a run that they have to do prior to employment,” Lavoie said. “The waterpark and pool lifeguards don’t have that requirement.”

Lavoie says lifeguards are essential to ensuring a safe and fun summer for everyone in the water.

“The biggest thing is anything can happen at anytime,” she said. “Anything can happen to the best of swimmers and not all people have that talent to be the best swimmer. So, I think it’s just really important because anything can happen at anytime, and if you swim near a lifeguard, you’re safe.”

Charleston County Parks says they make sure all of their lifeguards are highly trained before patrolling the waters.

“On the waterpark-pool side,” Lavoie said. “They’ll have to go through a 16-hour course. Typically, it’s spread across three days, so we’ll do Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On the ocean rescue side, they’ve got about 48 hours of training that they have to put in, plus a 40-hour medical responder course that they have to take.”

They also say being a Charleston County lifeguard comes with great benefits.

“The ocean rescue lifeguards,” Lavoie said. “Their starting pay is at $16 an hour. The waterpark and pool lifeguards are at $14 an hour. We pay for all of their certifications, so the lifeguards get paid to be at training while we’re teaching them how to do their job.”

Charleston County Parks will be hosting a job fair for lifeguards this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at James Island County Park.