Residents express concern over safety at trampoline parks

Posted at 10:00 PM, Sep 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-24 00:00:22-04

UTAH COUNTY -- Utah County residents sounded off at a passionate public hearing Monday night as the county considers whether to regulate trampoline parks.

The debate became heated enough that the Utah County Health Department took no action. Health board members want more injury data from doctors and the three trampoline parks in Utah County before making a decision.

As the meeting began Monday afternoon, one of the first to speak was physician’s assistant Adam Phillips from Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

"I'm the one, the notorious person who came and talked to the board months ago," Phillips said.

Wearing scrubs and showing photos too graphic for TV, Phillips and other doctors laid out for the county health board.

"These injuries are really serious, they're not little broken bones, they're life-changing injuries," said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bill Bacon

"These are the types of injuries people get in high-speed motor accidents or falling off a cliff,” Phillips said. “These are not the types of injuries we see in home jump gyms."

Spencer Merrill's son jumped into a foam pit at a trampoline park two years ago.

"My son is paralyzed from the chest down," Merrill said.

That’s one of the 90 severe jump gym injuries in Utah County since 2009, according to trauma doctors.  Gym owners insist their injury rates are lower than many major sports and they self-regulate.

"I'm telling you right now when I look at our accident report, a lady sprains her ankle, my safety guy couldn't have helped her, that just happens," said Carl Alger, Owner of "Jump on It"

"They have a responsibility to carry liability insurance for the damage they've caused,” said Utah representative Mike Kennedy

For months, the health department has considered requiring Utah County trampoline parks to report injuries, plus have supervisors trained in CPR and First Aid, one for every 32 patrons.

"Our concern is once you start regulating, where does it stop?  Where you have recommendations saying no somersaults," said Misty Uribe, general manager at Lowe's Xtreme Air Sports.

Owners fear additional recommendations will simply lead to more regulations. Monday night there was enough pressure to put the brakes on the proposal for now.

"I just don't want you to make regulations that are gonna make me close up, that's what I don't want," Alger said.

For now, the county health board wants trampoline parks to self-report any injuries.
Both sides meet again close to Thanksgiving.  At that point, health officials will decide if they have enough data to put regulations in place or not.