Rising Temperatures Put Pressure on Pool Managers to Ensure Safe Summer Fun

Published on May 1, 2023

Vandoren Outten, Rose Bowl Aquatics Center Pool Manager. [RBAC Photo]

As the summer season approaches, the role of a pool manager becomes increasingly important. Ask Vandoren Outten, the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center pool manager.

The job is not without challenges — perhaps the greatest of which this summer is coping with a shortage of lifeguards. This shortfall has made it difficult to find qualified candidates to fill all his shifts, particularly since the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center is open 361 days a year and offers about 100 hours of programming a week.

According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, there were over 1,000 lifeguard vacancies in the county last summer. This was due to several factors, including the increasing popularity of water activities.

Last September Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will provide $10 million in funding to help address the lifeguard shortage in California. The bill will also create a new training program for lifeguards and provide financial assistance to lifeguards who are pursuing higher education.

Outten said the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center has gotten creative with staffing solutions to address this challenge in Pasadena. For example, the RBAC has cross-trained other employees, offered signing bonuses, and been flexible to support busy schedules like students and those with other jobs.

Overseeing the lifeguard team and ensuring the safety of all swimmers in designated pool areas is Outten’s primary responsibility as a pool manager, he said.

This involves scheduling lifeguards for shifts, monitoring the pool for potential hazards, and responding quickly and appropriately to any emergencies that may arise.

“Training is key,” Outten said. “Inservice training and White Cap Drills, are regularly performed. These drills are live scenarios, with either active or passive persons, during operational hours.”

“Also, we have created “refresher quizzes” for the lifeguards that are performed throughout the day. These reminders are important to keep our responsibility for the safety of all guests top of mind. The strong culture of teamwork and communication, helps our lifeguards work together effectively in high-pressure situations. ‘Lifeguards for life’ is more than a hashtag, it is a culture that surrounds this job,” he said.

In addition to these day-to-day responsibilities, Outten said that pool managers also conduct regular training sessions for lifeguards, covering topics such as CPR and first aid, water rescue techniques, and communication skills. Administrative tasks such as maintaining equipment, managing budgets, and communicating with other program managers who use the pools are also part of the job.

Another challenge Outten confronts is staying up-to-date with the latest safety protocols and regulations. He emphasized the importance of ongoing education and development opportunities for lifeguards, including initial certification courses, regular refresher courses, and scenario-based training exercises.

Ultimately, Outten said, he loves the job as manager.

“This job is rewarding and challenging which is why I have stayed so long. I like that no two days are alike. We’re always looking for dedicated individuals who are passionate about safety and customer service to join our team. It feels good to take care of the people in our community. I think many people don’t realize we are a nonprofit,” he said.

He encouraged anyone interested in pursuing a career in lifeguarding to visit the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center website or reach out to him to learn about upcoming training opportunities.

“The RBAC offers a couple of different American Red Cross courses, such as a Lifeguarding Class with Title 22 and a Blended Learning Lifeguard Class (a condensed/hybrid course). Lifeguard certification and training is year-round,” Outten said. “If you’re interested in pursuing a career in lifeguarding, I encourage you to visit our website or reach out to us and find out about upcoming training opportunities. There are also other ways to support and get involved like donating to the Water Safety For All campaign, which provides things like scholarships for lifeguard training and water safety instruction.”

Outten said he and the lifeguard team at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center are committed to maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all guests.

“The culture we have been able to create is unlike any other in years past,” Outten said. “We will continue to improve, learn, and grow.”

The Rose Bowl Aquatic Center is located at 360 N. Arroyo Blvd. in Pasadena. For more, call (626) 564-0330 or visit https://www.rosebowlaquatics.org/


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