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Sunday, August 19, 2012

More on Portland pool lifeguards

Our knowledgeable reader base provides us with invaluable information all the time. Our post of yesterday, wondering about lifeguards at public pools in Portland, drew two interesting responses:

There are two competing national certification programs for lifeguards, Red Cross and Ellis & Associates. Ellis is by far a more rigorous and higher quality certification standard. PP&R has mandated Ellis certification for its lifeguards for at least 12 years now, if not significantly longer.

The Florida incident involved a city that outsourced its lifeguarding to a sister Ellis company, Jeff Ellis Management, which is different from the company that provides the national certification standard, Ellis & Associates, Inc.

Given the current structure of PP&R's aquatic department, it seems pretty unlikely that the city would ever actually outsource management of its pools and lifeguards to Jeff Ellis Management. However, continuing to require certification through Ellis & Associates will certainly not be changing anytime soon.


My daughter has worked for Portland Parks as a lifeguard for 7 years. Ellis and Associates is a very good company (they are competitors with Red Cross). They take their training seriously, and monitor life guards skills very closely. Have nothing bad to say about them.

However, Portland Parks -- the way they schedule/pay/treat their lifeguards is a different story. They routinely schedule guards for over 40 hours a week, then REFUSE to play overtime (it is the lifeguard's problem to find a sub, sometimes they let the guards flex time to the next week). This happens all the time. Isn't that practice against the law? That is something you may want to ask Portland Parks about. My daughter sometimes come home after working 11 hours in one day, and you guessed it -- no overtime!!

Comments (10)

Good grief! It must be hard to get the basics right when you're worrying about fancy real estate deals, issuing debt, designing iconic parks, spinning meager accomplishments, etc.

I would think the 11 hrs would be a safety issue. I was a lifeguard for many years, and participated in several rescues. When you are on duty, especially on a hot day it is constant scanning and concentration on all the kids in the pool. It is mentally exhausting and also physically hard on the body in the sun and eyes with the glare on the water. At a beach or pool kids can go under really quick, and you have to be constantly on top of it. On a hot day it can be almost wall to wall kids and I can't tell you how many toddler's I had to go after while their mom's were chitchatting on the beach.

Time to turn them in!

Let me guess. If anyone resists, all of a sudden they're getting no hours and never rehired? These kids need a good union. The City as a whole continues to need adult supervision. Ridiculous.

With the temperatures this summer, I'm surprised any lifeguard is getting hours, let alone being forced to work overtime.

Huh? It was 100 degrees the other day.

I was a lifeguard for several years, and agree with swimmer. It's mentally and physically challenging, and 11 hours would put you at a severe disadvantage. Little kids, especially, can go down amazingly fast, and the more hours you spend out there, the slower your reflexes become. Unquestionably a safety issue.

Distracted parents/sitters are a real issue as well - they tend to assume that since there's a lifeguard on duty, they don't have to pay attention. More eyes is always better.

Your memory can't be that short. Yes, two 100 degree days nestled in between two months of overcast and 65. The summer used to last longer than 2 weeks in August.

The comment about "anyone resists, they get no hours" is very true. The practice of "overscheduling" has gone on for many years/summers. These employees are responsible, hard working kids who take their guarding duties very seriously, and are being screwed by the higher ups at Portland Parks Aquatics. In fairness, the guards do rotate off the pool deck in a timely fashion, and have some down time, but the overall hours are long, and Portland Parks does not believe in overtime.

are they true "employees" or 1099'nd through Ellis?
BOLI may be an option.

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