I am a lifeguard at a public pool and due to the pandemic, many things have changed, especially the way in which we operate. Some background information: we are only open 4 hours each weekday. Each hour (at the 45), we close the pool to sanitize, then proceed to open again on the top of the hour. We rotate positions every 15 minutes. Before the pandemic, we would usually have 3 lifeguards on duty. Now that the pool hours have been restricted, my boss presumably "felt bad" that not everyone could work as much (which is very kind), and assigned more lifeguards to work each day, albeit unnecessary. So every day, we have a huge surplus of guards. We're talking 7 lifeguards on duty (excluding my boss) when only 2 are required to be out on deck at a time. Since only 8 swimmers are allowed in the pool at a time, there are some points in the day when we have more lifeguards than patrons!
This has raised many issues. First and foremost: too much time spent on training. As one might expect, there are simply too many of us standing and waiting around, doing nothing for most of the day. So, my boss has been reviewing lifeguard training material with the guards who are off-duty. While I think that reviewing material and practicing certain situations are helpful to keep us on our feet in case of an actual emergency, we've been reviewing multiple hours a day, every day, for the past month. I feel like my time spent at work is 1/2 training, 1/4 cleaning/sanitizing, and 1/4 actually lifeguarding. I'd like to mention the fact that I am a college student, so this large influx of information isn't too overwhelming. However, there are some lifeguards who are 40-50+. Based off of their answers and performance in some of the trainings, it is obvious that they feel a bit overwhelmed. I can't blame them! After all, whenever my boss mentions more training, we all sigh (and some of us roll our eyes) in disbelief at the idea that we can possibly do more training. We even read in one of the training booklets this past week that the recommended amount of training for lifeguards is 4 hours a month - approximately 1 hour a week. That seems pretty reasonable. For the past month, we've been doing training for more than 4 hours a week.
This brings me to the next topic: unnecessary/somewhat demeaning tasks. One of my colleagues (another college student) lightly confronted my boss about the amount of training earlier this week as the lifeguards off-duty were tasked with reading training booklets out loud so that my boss could hear. I don't know about anyone else, but being tasked to read booklets about how to teach little kids how to swim (which we aren't even certified to do) just so that my boss can hear that we are reading seems a bit demeaning/belittling (my boss said that that was the sole reason we were reading out loud). Where's the trust?! After my colleague mentioned that all of the lifeguards have probably read that same booklet 3 or 4 times already, they weren't tasked with reading training booklets out loud any more. Instead, they were told to pull the weeds sweep up the excess leaves and debris surrounding the pool area. I don't have my actual contract handy, but I know that there is a clause that mentions "other pool-related duties as assigned by the pool manager." However, I feel as if pulling weeds is less of a pool-related duty and more of a facility maintenance responsibility. Thoughts?
Finally, the last topic: not following health regulations. As I've mentioned earlier, one of the pool rules during the pandemic is that there can be a maximum of 8 patrons in the pool at a time. During our "trainings," if there are not 8 swimmers in the pool (say, we have 6 swimmers that hour), we sometimes get in the pool to practice lifeguarding saves and using the backboard in case of a drowning or other accident. Because there are so many guards off-duty (4-5 most days), we all get in the pool, utilizing the open lanes. This means that there are 6 swimmers in the pool + 5 lifeguards. 11 people in the pool. That is a direct violation of our own pool rules, which state that there can only be 8 swimmers in the pool at a time. If I were a patron, I would be seriously concerned. In addition, when practicing saves in the pool, lifeguards are not socially distanced from one another. And since we are in the water, we can't be wearing masks. This seems dangerous, especially because only 2 out of the 10 total lifeguards share the same household.
So how should I approach this situation? Maybe a more important question to ask is: Why does my boss even have all of this extra time to train the lifeguards for multiple hours a day?