Regional Rundown: Lifeguard training will help fill positions

This last week has been one of the busiest in Radium Hot Springs since I was elected to council seven years ago!

This last week has been one of the busiest in Radium Hot Springs since I was elected to council seven years ago! Some highlights have included: valley-wide marketing and branding update, Resident Recruiting and Retention focus group, Community to Community Forum with the Shuswap Band, budget meetings, a council meeting, Better at Home program launch, and more. Despite all this activity, I have decided to focus on a completely different topic this week.

As the economy slows down all around us and the dollar continues its slide, we are finding that tourism is actually doing pretty well: Albertans like the proximity and the Americans like how far their dollar goes. Therefore, it is more important than ever that our attractions remain top-notch. Unfortunately, we are experiencing staffing shortages at the Radium Hot Springs, which directly impacted our visitors, accommodators and Visitor Centre Staff over the holidays. An ongoing posting for lifeguards has been issued by Parks Canada (See Careers at www.hotsprings.ca for details).

There is a perception that lifeguards must have a very high proficiency level in swimming in order to meet the criteria for certification, which keeps some folks from pursuing this profession. The reality is that lifeguarding can be well-paying, year-round employment in the valley, and College of the Rockies is developing a program to assist any person who is comfortable in the water and wants to learn to attain National Lifeguard Service (NLS) certification this spring!

The program is currently in development, but essentially, over several months, candidates will spend two to three sessions a week at the pool with certified swim instructors:

• to build endurance and efficiency in swim strokes;

• to attain a standard First Aid certificate;

• to learn lifesaving skills to meet the Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross standards, and be tested and certified;

• to learn the skills required to be tested and certified as a lifeguard.

The program will be designed to allow all learners to work at their own pace. The ultimate goal is for the successful candidates to apply for work at any of the pools in the valley by the start of the season, and then have employment through the winter!

If interested, be sure to call the College of the Rockies Invermere Campus at 250-342-3210 to get more information, including potential funding opportunities.

Clara Reinhardt is the mayor of the Village of Radium Hot Springs and a Regional District of East Kootenay director for the Columbia Valley.

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