By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – As trampoline park injuries across the country skyrocket, WBZ’s I-Team found calls to Massachusetts Fire Departments are also jumping.

“I think I just always had the assumption it’d be like going to the town swimming pool, like something happens, the lifeguard jumps down and takes charge of the situation,” said Tara Pottebaum, whose 4-year-old son Gabriel went to a birthday party at Launch in Watertown this summer.

“He landed squarely on his neck and his shoulders,” said Gabriel’s dad, Doug Rooney. “There was no assistance. There was no, ‘we need to put a protocol to stop the jumping.’”

He said the staff never even called 911, so he did. “Every one of your worst fears as a parent were, I thought, going to come true. I thought he was going to be immobilized for the rest of his life,” said Rooney.

A CT-scan showed Gabriel had a cervical sprain in his neck. He’s doing fine now, and his parents are counting their blessings. CBS News has confirmed in the last seven years, at least six people died at trampoline parks, and according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, injuries shot up from 2,500 in 2013 to almost 18,000 in 2017.

Launch sent the I-Team a statement saying in part “…Launch is proactive in making sure all employees are properly trained to handle any crisis that may occur. Staff is trained in First Aid, including CPR and AED…” When the I-Team visited the facility, an employee could be seen standing and watching over jumpers doing flips. Signs warn, “do not land on head or neck.”

File image of trampoline park (WBZ-TV)

“Football players are protected a lot more with padding, so we don’t see as many fractures of their clavicles, their collarbones,” said Dr. Mark Waltzman, who works in the Emergency Room at Boston Children’s Hospital. “We don’t see as many rib problems from football because they’re really protected from their padding, but the kids are bouncing in T-shirts and shorts.”

While there are no federal regulations on trampoline parks, some states have recently passed laws, including Michigan, where Launch has several parks. The I-Team obtained 911 records showing Launch’s Michigan facilities each averaged eight calls for EMS over the last year.

Launch’s three parks in Massachusetts, which has no regulations, had more calls, averaging 13 each. Gabriel’s parents say laws should require better staffing. “I would expect that the people they have there should know how to respond,” said Pottebaum.

Launch says the company is taking “measures to resolve the claims made in Watertown,” and says safety is one its “core values”.

Christina Hager


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