Red Cross lifeguard training with service members on Joint Base Lewis McChord

By: Abby Lutz

According to a Red Cross survey, more than half of all Americans either can’t swim or don’t have all the basic swimming skills. That’s a scary statistic, and one the Red Cross is constantly working to improve by providing access to water safety courses and trainings across the country.  

Here in the Northwest Region, a big chunk of that training actually happens within the gates of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the military installation just southwest of Tacoma.  

In fact, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) Program has been one of the top training providers for the American Red Cross — not just within the Northwest Region, but within the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. So far this year, they’ve already trained around 350 people.  

“The JBLM MWR Team supports the Red Cross mission by providing lifesaving knowledge and skills to the community,” said Tatyana Kiselyov with Red Cross Training Services.  

Plus, on the base, keeping a low cost for participants is a priority.  

“I think it’s best for us to do free or low-cost lifeguard trainings because we’re able to impact more of the community, especially the service members and their families,” said Jenelee Horton, the Aquatics Program Manager at JBLM.  

We stopped in to talk with Horton during a lifeguard training session with service members this summer. Horton said they offer Red Cross lifeguard certification training typically once a month, or more if they receive special requests from units on base.  

“We also pair that with an additional civilian class on the weekends,” said Horton. “For us at Aquatics, we really just take pride in what we do. We really want to get water safety out there. We want to train more lifeguards, get more water safety out there and be able to serve the community.”  

And that sentiment aligns perfectly with the Red Cross mission. After years of utilizing Red Cross training, Horton calls it a ‘tried and true partnership’, and we couldn’t agree more.  

Click here to sign up for lifeguard training today!

Even if you have no connection to the military, this training is open to you! It’s important to Horton, and to the Red Cross, that water safety training is easily accessible to all.  

“Also, with the nationwide lifeguard shortage, it’s just more beneficial to recruit more participants and remind them that lifeguarding is still a profession,” said Horton.  

If you’d like to get in touch with the program on base, Horton says to call them at 253-967-5390 or head to their website here.

You can also visit the Red Cross website to learn more about water safety training and certifications available to you, or to get our top tips on swim safety. Download our free Swim App today to bring swim safety right to your fingertips. You can also track your learning progress in the app! 

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