MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Public beaches in Manatee County have been drawing large crowds this summer, but like many other communities across the nation, they’re dealing lifeguard shortages.

“Unfortunately, we are short 30 percent of our positions here locally in Manatee County,” Beach Patrol Lt. Karen Burkett said. “The pools are suffering from shortages as well. We are having to close lifeguard towers to spread out our coverage so we can be as effective as we can in certain areas.”

Tuesday, all lifeguard towers at Cortez Beach were unmanned as a direct result of staffing shortages, according to county officials.

“They have been opened up for two years and it is unfortunate, but we can’t effectively watch every area, so there may be intermittent towers open to protect the most that we can at Coquina Beach,” Burkett said. “On the weekends, we have more staffing usually, so we can open more towers, but during the week we are more affected by it. It is unprecedented. We are usually fully staffed or close to it. Right now, it is like one person is moving on and we may get one new hire, but we have not been able to re-adjust.”

On average, Manatee County lifeguards respond to between 90 and 135 rescues at its public beaches each year. With tourism in the area booming, beach patrol officials said the staffing shortages are a constant concern.

“There is definitely an uptick in crowd levels and it is concerning with the lower staffing levels,” Burkett said. “We make sure that when we are planning for the day, that we have enough coverage on the towers that we have open to kind of expect the possibility for an emergency.”

Manatee County is actively hiring full-time, year-round lifeguards starting at $17.80 an hour with no experience necessary. If the candidate is eligible for the position, the county will provide training. EMTs qualify for a starting rate of $19.50 an hour.

Anyone interested in becoming a lifeguard in Manatee County can find more information here.