DENVER - 9Wants to Know found numerous injuries connected to several local indoor trampoline parks, which have seen explosive growth and popularity over the last several years.
A review of 911 dispatch records shows paramedics have responded to four Denver-area trampoline parks dozens of times over the last three years for things like fractures, dislocations, neck injuries and concussions.
"Trampolines were designed as training devices, not as toys," Dr. Gary Smith of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance told 9Wants to Know. "The problem we are seeing with trampoline parks is that there is not enough supervision and they're not being used appropriately. There are unnecessary injuries occurring."
Two pending personal injury lawsuits against Denver's largest trampoline company, Jumptreet, blame the business for a lack of supervision.
In one of the claims, an 11-year-old girl is "permanently impaired" after she was knocked unconscious by a jumper who kicked her in the head at Jumpstreet's Arapahoe Road location.
In the second lawsuit, lawyers representing a boy say he suffered a traumatic brain injury after getting into a fight with another jumper during a dodge ball game. The lawsuit says a Jumpstreet employee failed to properly supervise children when the fight occurred.
Lawyers and families involved in the lawsuits declined to comment to 9Wants to Know about their claims.
At Jumpstreet's Arapahoe Road Location, 9Wants to Know counted 40 medical dispatch calls to the business since 2011 for fractures, dislocated joints and other injuries.
Not only do children as young as 7 get hurt, but 911 records indicate adults are also calling the emergency line for injuries.
As groups like CIPA raise safety concerns over the largely unregulated trampoline parks, Jumpstreet says it has improved equipment and safety features over the last several years.
"We just want parents to know trampoline parks are safe,"Mark Goldman of Jumpstreet said.
Goldman pointed out youth sports like soccer and football have similar risks. "There is some perception that trampolines are not safe, which isn't true. Our statistics show that children are more likely to get injured in an organized sport."
Goldman also pointed out the number of injuries compared to the number of jumpers who visit their parks is extraordinarily small.
"We run 200,000 people here a year," Goldman told 9Wants to Know at the Arapahoe Road location. "On occasion we get a twisted ankle or something, just by the nature of kids doing flips or jumping on a trampoline."
Goldman showed 9Wants to Know several safety features at Jumpstreet parks, including springs covered with pads and redundant netting underneath trampolines just in case they tear or break.
Employees called "monitors" can also be seen at Jumpstreet, acting like lifeguards, watching over jumping children. Jumpstreet says it follows a voluntary standard of having one monitor for every 32 jumpers.
"It's important to manage the number of kids per trampoline to prevent double bouncing and things like that, that cause injury," Goldman said.
Goldman said he couldn't comment on the lawsuits because of pending litigation.
Potential state regulation
While Goldman says Jumpstreet would welcome government enforcement of safety standards, 9Wants to Know has learned Colorado's division of Oil and Public Safety is exploring the idea of such enforcement.
"We'd love to have the industry regulated. We think that's important to maintain safety," Goldman said.
Oil and Public Safety, which regulates theme parks, may eventually adopt trampoline park standards recently established by ASTM, an international standards organization.
Local governments often take cues from ASTM on what safety standards to enforce when it comes to places like Elitches.
"I like to say the state regulations are coming. We already abide by the standards in the industry that are being set."
Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola? Call him at 303-871-1425 or e-mail him
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