HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — With Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, local aquatic centers worry about increased crowds with fewer lifeguards on watch.

“We need lifeguards.” Britt Sain with the Weinstein Jewish Community Center (JCC) said.

This problem isn’t exclusive to the JCC. Jonathan McNamara with the Virginia Red Cross explains that lifeguard shortages have been a problem for more than a year now.

“During the peak of COVID there were less lifeguard classes offered in the community and that had an impact on the number of lifeguards available,” McNamara said. “Some have unfortunately left the profession.”

Many businesses have been plagued with staffing shortages since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but McNamara describes how this specific type of staffing shortage can be a matter of life or death.

“It impacts the ability for parents to feel comfortable about bringing children around water,” McNamara said.