Kamloops' Jump 360 cites safety in wake of news on accidents

Dozens of people have been injured since a trampoline park opened in Kamloops, but the business partners behind Jump 360 say the company puts safety first.

"We provide as many protocols as we possibly can and we're constantly improving," said Jump 360 managing partner Sandra Norton.

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Seventy-nine injuries ranging from rug burns to bone breaks occurred from September through December, said managing partner Donna Brandt. It equates to roughly 20 injuries per month in the first four months the park opened.

A spotlight has shone on the growing trampoline park industry after B.C. father Jay Greenwood died in January following an accident at a similar facility in Richmond.

"It has been emotionally difficult to hear of anyone being harmed because we bring people to gather for joy," Norton said.

John Heshka, a Thompson Rivers University professor in the adventure tourism department, has expertise in extreme and adventure sport liability.

Calling the industry the "Wild Wild West," he said trampoline parks are unregulated, partly because they are so new. He noted trampoline parks "barely existed" a decade ago.

"It takes time for the law to catch up," he said. "Up until recently, there hadn't really been any cause for concern, either. That is, there hadn't been the injuries or the fatalities to warrant governmental interest."

That may be changing.

Before Greenwood's death on Jan. 26, a 19-year-old Edmonton-area man jumped into a foam pit, broke his neck and became quadriplegic. Media reports indicate he is suing Jump Park Trampoline in Sherwood Park, Alta., for more than $17 million.

"Clearly when there are two high-profile incidents in such a short period of time, hard questions have to get answered," Heshka said.

Jump 360 jumpers are required to sign a waiver, which essentially puts the onus on jumpers.

"Certainly, it would be impossible to cover everything we could for every jumper," Norton said. "We should not be able to have a business under those conditions [if Jump 360 was liable for injuries]."

Other safety measures taken by Jump 360 include requiring staff to have first-aid training, separating small children into a kids' zone, promoting safety through signs and videos and strictly enforcing rules.

"Sometimes people don't honour or follow the rules and we can't control that," Brandt said.

Safety advice for jumpers includes: following park rules, checking foam pits to ensure there is sufficient foam (full or overflowing) and a foam bed underneath the foam, never running on the trampolines, never jumping on or near pads, jumping on the centre of the trampoline, not jumping near smaller people, not performing double flips, never jumping head first into a foam pit and remaining in control.

Running and double bouncing are among top causes for injuries.

While there are no government regulations in Canada, Jump 360's partners noted there are professional standards.

They are members of the International Association of Trampoline Parks, which follows American Society for Testing and Materials International standards on design, manufacturing, installations, maintenance and repairs.

Without government regulation, however, those standards are voluntary.

"Operators are not compelled to comply with them as they would a governmental regulation, but it's accepted as industry best practices that they do," Heshka said.

Bethany Evans, executive vice-president of the International Association of Trampoline Parks, told KTW the association is willing to work with government bodies to regulate the industry.

Meanwhile, Heshka said trampoline-related emergency room visits in the United States shot up to 6,932 in 2014 from 581 in 2010, with children ages six to 17 accounting for those requiring the most treatment

KTW contacted Interior Health for trampoline-related emergency room visits to Royal Inland Hospital since the Jump 360 opened, but IH West communications consultant Haley Allen said those numbers aren't tracked.

"In the absence of any governmental oversight, it's the Wild Wild West still," Heshka cautioned. "So you just have to appreciate that."

© Kamloops This Week


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