Edmonton

Broken neck triggers calls for regulation of trampoline parks

An incident at a trampoline park in Sherwood Park that left a teen in hospital with a broken neck is spurring calls for tighter regulations of the industry.

'You can go in there and essentially do what you want. That is the danger'

Landon Smith broke his neck after flipping into the foam pit of Jump Park Trampoline on Jan. 07,2017 (Roberta Bell/CBC)

An incident at a trampoline park in Sherwood Park that left a teen in hospital with a broken neck is spurring calls for tighter regulations of the industry.

While visiting his brother Landon Tuesday, Jordan Scott questioned the rules around the foam pit at Jump Park Trampoline.

"It does seem weird that the foam pit would only be three-and-a-half feet deep. It doesn't seem like anyone would approve that."

Every park is aware of the injuries and dangers of trampolines- Darren Balderson

The company stated on their Facebook page that the pit meets industry standards with three-and-a-half feet of foam blocks on top a safety trampoline on the facility's floor.

Landon hit the floor after jumping into the pit Saturday.

Industry standards are based on U.S. trampoline parks. Those standards are used as guidelines in the building of new trampoline parks.

In Canada, trampoline parks aren't regulated, so there is no enforcement to ensure the parks, which are popular across the country, meet the same safety standards.

Participants sign a waiver and promise to abide by a list of rules. Some have employees who watch over the park to correct unsafe behaviours and help out in emergencies.

"It is up to the park to maintain the level of safety, but every park is aware of the injuries and dangers of trampolines," said Darren Balderson, the owner of LaunchPad Trampoline Park in Edmonton. "Every park is vigilant with this."
Michel Arsenault, former owner of Champion Gymnastics in Edmonton, is facing charges of sexual assault in Quebec. (CBC)

Theo Charette's seven-year-old son broke his foot during his first visit to a trampoline park. A larger kid jumped beside him which cause him to jump higher than expected leading to an awkward landing.

When they arrived at the emergency room, Charette was surprised to hear a doctor rant about how they see injuries related to trampoline parks almost daily.

Alberta Health Services reports there were 105 emergency visits related to trampolines in 2015. AHS says such injuries are on the rise, but there needs to be more research into trampoline park injuries.

"I hope that somebody looks into this and maybe a report can be made that investigates what cost this is having on our system," Charette said.

How many more accidents do we need before somebody decides to do something about it?- Michel Arsenault

Michel Arsenault, coach and owner of Champion Gymnastics, doesn't believe industry standards are strict enough.

Gymnastics clubs must meet specific guidelines of provincial and national federations about what's acceptable when it comes to trampoline use. The clubs must have an instructor who is certified to teach and watch the gymnast.

"That's the whole allure of a trampoline park; that there is no instruction," Arsenault said. "You can go in there and essentially do what you want. That is the danger."

Arsenault would like to see a monitoring body set and enforce regulations at trampoline parks.

"How many more accidents do we need before somebody decides to do something about it? The knowledge is there," he said. "There are experts in this country that can come up with guidelines for a safe practice of trampoline in those kind of environments.

"The government could intervene, strike a board — a consultative board to start with — of experts who can start making recommendations as to what is acceptable practices for indoor trampoline parks."

A spokesperson for Municipal Affairs Alberta, says they're looking into Saturday's incident

The spokesperson added that foam pits are being looked at by the American Society for Testing Materials, which is working on creating a standard to replace foam pits.

Once this work is completed, Municipal Affairs Alberta will review it and consider if changes are needed in Alberta.

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

@Travismcewancbc

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