2 Investigators Expose Trampoline Dangers

CHICAGO (CBS) — Indoor trampoline parks are all the rage on the West Coast and six months ago, a company called Xtreme Trampolines opened the first trampoline center here, in Carol Stream.

Kids and adults make it look easy and fun. But not everyone is having a good time, as CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reports.

There are serious concerns over safety issues at Xtreme Trampolines.

In the past six months there have been sixteen calls to the 911 center for an ambulance after injuries at Xtreme Trampolines. One came from a mother who told the 911 operator, “my daughter…she fell directly on her neck, tingling in her arms, severe pain and she’s having trouble breathing.”

Another call was made after 21-year-old Brett Kromeich did a front flip and fell on his landing that was videotaped by a friend.

“The tension from the tramp when it snapped back up snapped my leg completely in two, with the bone coming out the side of my leg.”

He required surgery to repair the damage, but five months later Kromeich still walks with a limp. “The doctors say they don’t know if it will ever go away,” Kromeich said.

Erik Beck, the owner of Xtreme Trampolines said, “We’ve had 100,000 kids come through here so there are going to be injuries. I wish I could stop every one of them but there’s an inherent risk to jumping on trampolines.”

Beck says each customer must watch a safety video that includes house rules against sitting on a trampoline, more than one person on a trampoline, and “no double jumping.”

But when the 2-investigators visited Xtreme Trampolines on a recent Saturday afternoon, our undercover camera recorded staff ignoring customers who were violating the rules. One kid is seen sitting on the trampoline while others jumped around. Another shot shows kids double jumping right in front of a staff member.

“I saw a supervisor walking right by and not do anything,” Zekman told Beck. “They should have stopped it?”

“They should have stopped it absolutely,” Beck replied.

There are no government safety regulations for trampoline centers. Critics say there should be.

Mark Sohn, a former champion gymnast who has visited Xtreme Trampolines, says “It’s not a matter of if, but when we are going to have a catastrophic accident.”

And Don McPherson, a gymnastics instructor, has also studied the Xtreme Trampolines operation. “They are not enforcing their own rules and the rules they have are woefully insufficient,” McPherson said.

For example, customers are allowed to jump head-first into a foam-filled pit.

That’s dangerous at any facility, says Dr. Kristine Cieslick, an emergency room doctor at Central DuPage Hospital, where customers from Xtreme Trampoline have been taken for treatment.

“Depending on how deep it is, you could actually hit the bottom if the foam isn’t fluffed up properly,” Cieslick said. “You could have a head injury, you could have a neck injury.”

Asked why he does not have a rule against it, the owner of Xtreme Trampolines responded, “Yeah, we probably should have that rule.”

But Beck says trampolining at his facility is safer than most other sports. He claims that only 2 out of 1,000 customers get injured.

Beck is now trying to open a second facility in Buffalo Grove. He says those that oppose him are either trying to prevent competition or are trying to impose unnecessary gymnastics training standards on a recreational facility.

A similar business is also planning on opening trampoline parks in Niles and Naperville this year. It has a number of personal injury law suits on the West Coast.

© MMX, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. Interactive

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  • gibson

    trampolines are so dangerous, my gymnastic career was cut short by a trampoline. That was 35 years ago. I was lucky I was not in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I have been saying it to my kids, family members. Don’t buy that trampoline for your yard, don’t go to these Xtreme Centers – you are asking for it.

  • mark

    One boy I know broke his back last summer and another girl had the spring on the side impale her toe as she was barefoot on it.

    • q

      was dat there? or just on trampoline in general?

      • Trustworthy Commenter

        xtreme trampolines opened in November 2010. this is not their fault nor was it at their ocation

  • Geoff

    Having been here for one of the injuries where an ambulance was called, my friend only had a sprained ankle. I’d rather see them take more precautions than not enough.

    Also, that guy who broke his leg. He looks like he is in his 20’s and has some size to him. He should know better than to perform something that I can tell from watching the video he can’t physically do. No one to blame but himself.

    If you do the math, 16 ambulances out of 100K jumpers, the percentage is actually less than 2 in every 1000. It then becomes about 1 in every 10,000. Try telling me that football, gymnastics, skiing can boast those numbers? I think not.

    If this is CBS Investigations, it would be nice to actually see some investigation instead of telling one side of the story. Like the obvious business that this place took from both of those guys. I am sure their “good intentions” only go as far as the money they are losing. I wonder how many injuries that old guy has had at his place?

    The reason I write such a lengthy comment is because my kids, friends, and family love this place. I’ve broken bones playing basketball, football, and baseball. I’ve had injuries in car accidents. Honestly, tell me one active thing that is out there that does not have some risk?

    • Paul

      Our industry knows “both of those guys”. If you knew them and what they did for a living and the issue at hand you would know that no “obvious business that this place took from both of those guys” is NOT obious and NOTHING was taken from them. They are NOT in competition with the trampoline park.

      And our industry knows “that old guy”. And he’s not that old. And your insinuation about injuries that may have taken place at “his place” are irresponsible and wrong minded. You need to do a bit of research on the topic and the people involved.

      • Geoff

        How so? Mark sells insurance to gymnastics facilites. Maybe he is upset about losing out on a pay day. Don has his own gymnastics training facility that also has birthday parties on the weekends? How would Xtreme Trampolines not be taking that business from him?

        I would love for you to educate me on injuries further and any other way I may have been mislead.

      • Paul

        if you think that “Don” makes a living doing birthday parties and that “Mark” makes a living selling insurance to bad risks….well you don’t reallt know what they do for a living. you don’t know them. and they are well known and respected in the industry.

        as far as injuries, fill out a FOIA form where “Don” has been with his gyms. it is there where you will find “injuries” and the amount of 911 calls. if you knew him and the other gymnastics clubs, i dare to say that all of them total have not had the 911 calls that extreme has had in just 6 months.

        please, do some research.

    • lavender1

      The total of 16 ambulance calls is BULL!!! Extreme Trampolines has resorted to calling several private ambulance services INSTEAD of calling 911. In fact, an employee there stated that they are instructed not to call 911! Calling in a private ambulance service could take up to 30 minutes or more for them to arrive, when the Carol Stream firehouse is literally 5 minutes down the road and Glenside Firehouse is also very close by. Why are they doing this you ask? To hide the number of ambulance calls so they can have more locations. There have been several serious injuries at this place. Yes, kids can get injured several ways, but do you want to sit and watch your child in pain while you are waiting 30 minutes for a private ambulance to come?

      • Geoff

        One, when an ambulance is called for a broken ankle, is there a need to take the cities rescources? When I saw that, does there really need to be two cops, a fire truck and an ambulance there for a broken ankle? Is the cop going to magically touch the ankle and it’s all better. What is done is done. So really, there is no need to take away from the town’s resources when they could be at a real emergency. In fact, I too no know an employee as you do, and if it is an extreme injury (anything with the neck, back for example) would get a 9-1-1 call.

        If you are there with your child and it is a broken bone or something like that, why sit with them? Get off your ass and be a parent and take them to the hospital.

        Thirdly, any ambulance service does not take that long, especailly in the suberbs. If you did your research, and judging by your comment you didn’t, a 9-1-1 call needing an ambulance, on average, takes 3-5 minutes. An ambulance service takes beteen 4-7 minutes.

        If they are using an ambulance service, I am sure it is not to hide numbers or anything like that. But perhaps rather not to waste or even raise taxes for the city of the location. Please do your homework and research and only come with facts instead of speculation.

  • E

    I Agree with Geoff, What about skate parks? Many villages have outdoor skate parks. How many ambulances are called to them? I would bet it is a much higher percentage.

    • Customer :D

      agreed. completely agreed.

  • Stacey

    It’s great to know that CBS News endorses childhood obesity and would rather parents set their children in front of their Xbox than have them enjoy a RECREATIONAL facility based on EXERCISE. People injure themselves in a variety of ways, from the mundane stubbing of a toe into a stair that results in a break, to accidentally tripping on a sidewalk, breaking an elbow or wrist to break the fall.

    Plain and simple, if you’d rather see your child develop type-2 Diabetes and weigh over 250 pounds only to gain them a spot on the Biggest Loser in about 10 years, go right ahead and believe this hogwash of a story. If you’d rather your child get active and take the risk of learning they’re not invinceable but that exercise and activity can be FUN, then march right over to Xtreme Trampolines, or even a park, for that matter. But I suppose those terrify CBS news too. Stay tuned for their next terrifying story on the dangers of monkey bars and swings! Watch out Carol Stream Park District, you’re next on Pam Zeckman’s list.

  • F. William Young

    World wide a Trampoline is recognized as a piece of apparatus. The definition of an apparatus is a device used for a purpose. Using the Trampoline as a toy that one plays around on haphazardly, foolishly, without focus and concentration does and will lead to serious injuries including death. The cavalier attitudes that one can do what they want, when they want, how they want is the resultant misconception of the difference between license and freedom. When one’s freedoms encroach on another’s then that’s license. What if that fool that was obviously out of control had of bashed a child with his out of control huge body into a much smaller persons head. From the looks of those videos that’s what those parks are courting. Seems like common sense should be the common denominator but greed conquers common sense in this situation is my opinion. It’s so obvious that diving into anything but water, and even then caution comes first, is tantamount to playing Russian Roulette and any responsible parent would find that the antithesis of healthy behavior.
    Yes these parks are fun until it’s you that’s maimed. These places will ruin themselves financially with a cascade of lawsuits because we live in the United Suit of America. It’s obvious this is foolish, reckless, wanton behavior from any prudent, responsible and legal point of view.
    Finally, i’ve run a Trampoline only training facility in the United Suit of America for almost fourteen years. We’ve had only four ambulance calls, and i’m knocking on wood as i type, in that time. Our best athletes fly twenty feet into the air but have years of practice, experience and aerial awareness. We teach about fifty five skills before we allow people to “flip” on their own because we understand the consequences. We’ve flipped more than twenty thousand people in our overhead spotting apparatus so they can experience this thrill and body control. Most of those that claim they can “land a flip” aren’t even close in our belts on our Trampolines. Experience is the mother of knowledge and my nonagenarian master instructor was well aware of this phenomena. These Johnny come lately irresponsible village idiots are in it for the almighty dollar and should reap the karma they sow. Buyer beware in a society that values money over life, family, health, ethics and moral turpitude. Thankfully there are many, probably most, in the United States of America that have their values straight.

    • Paul

      You stated this better than most.:)

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