Monday, August 13, 2012

Windham offers a lot of hot air

My post below about the staff's response to a safety problem in a local theater got a lot of attention.  (By the way, the theater director called and reported that the cause was fixed:  The loose seats had gotten "ungaffed" from the others in the row.)  But the story also prompted a note from Melissa Mattison, one of my favorite doctors, who reported on a even more poor staff response to a huge safety hazard at Windham Mountain Adventure Park.

See a recent feature about what happened to my daughter  in NY last weekend.  My seven year old daughter jumped onto "The Big Air Bag" and the bag wasn't positioned correctly.  It was too far out from the platform.  Her fall was broken by the bag - thank goodness! But instead of staying on the bag, she was thrown off the bag and on the ground.  Thankfully she doesn't appear seriously injured but she landed on her head in a mud puddle, came up bleeding (cut mouth/gum), scraped up and down her arm and leg and covered in mud.

Here's the video of the event:

Melissa continues:

Here is a link to a Yelp review I did to also ‘get the word out’.  Yelp can be a powerful way to affect change in the commercial world, but until staff at facilities adopt a different stance towards safety it seems it will take time to truly change things.

Here's the pertinent part of the Yelp review:

Here's where it gets even worse.  The staff operating this ride did NOT stop the ride.  They would have let my 5 yr old jump right after if I hadn't stopped her.  The staff did not inquire how my 7 yr old was.  She picked herself up and we walked together up the hill to the main lodge/bathroom area and NO ONE who worked there asked us a single question or stopped us.  I cannot imagine they didn't see this happen.  There weren't that many people there, my daughter was crying loudly and was a mess (bleeding, muddy).  Another parent there asked me if she was okay, as she was concerned.   After we washed out the cuts in the bathroom, the manager of the facility (Alexander) came up and asked us what happened. (I think one of the other parents must have said something to him.)  When we told him his response was, "You signed the waiver didn't you?" and then he went on to say, "This has been working fine all summer."


Anonymous said...

While the staff's response was definitely lacking, I have to say that this is an entirely different category of incident than what occurred to Paul.

Chair falls off riser in darkened theater = passive participant, with an expectation of safety in a setting with low visibility, no suggestion of risk prior to the incident

7 year old jumps off of a high platform onto an inflatable "air bag" = active participant, having signed a waiver specifically informing you of risk.

And seriously? You let your 7 year old do something that required signing a waiver? And you were willing to let your 5 year old do that up until your other child was injured?

Paul Levy said...

Signing a waiver means nothing. Read the back of the ticket for an amusement park or even a ball game at Fenway Park. It is a contract of adhesion, containing an implicit waiver even though you signed nothing.

I think you are being really cruel to the parents. Any person would expect this kind of ride or attraction to be safe if it is offered to the public. We would expect, if it is unsuitable for small children, that they would be excluded -- as is often the case in certain amusement park rides.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I disagree. Although signing the waiver may be a token, it's an indicator of potential risk, or they wouldn't bother to have you sign it. I would expect watching a play to be safe, I would not expect "the big air bag" to be safe. Even were the bag to be properly placed, what if your child twisted mid-air and stretched out an arm, then landed on it? Broken wrist, tendon damage, shoulder issues, wrenched back, I can see a whole host of issues with this "ride" that should be a reason not to allow your young children to partake. Honestly, I can think of a number of adults that I wouldn't recommend this to either. It's somewhat disturbing to me that a doctor - whose job is evaluating risk - is allowing her children on this. While you may feel that is a cruel judgement, I feel it is only objectivity.

Anonymous said...

These "attractions" must be regulated! They are not safe (at all). Varying degrees of injuries are common. Last month, my son (14) suffered serious injuries upon landing on the airbag. Severe concussion & fractured eye socket. A man surrered broken ankle last weekend, landing in the airbag. The lack of consistenct-placement & correct inflation of the airbag, directly causes some of these accidents. Windham Mountain boasts on Youtube that the BigAirBag is SAFE, no matter how you land.