Media Alert - Another Child Nearly Loses Eye During Paintball Party



    
                     "Paintball is not for Young Kids!"
       Warn Experts from The Montreal Children's Hospital Trauma Centre
    

    MONTREAL, June 27 /CNW Telbec/ - "Kids should be16 years old before they
can play paintball - period," says Debbie Friedman, Director of the Trauma
Program at The Montreal Children's Hospital of the McGill University Health
Centre. "I would like to see regulations making this activity off limits until
the age of 16. These rules would apply to informal backyard paintball
activities to more organized activities in paintball facilities. The risks are
clear; the potential for significant trauma is obvious, this is an extreme
sport and not one that is designed for children . To put it quite simply,
parents should choose a different activity for younger kids."
    During a birthday party, held at a Montreal paintball facility last week,
an 11 year old(*) took a direct hit to the eye. The child was rushed to The
Montreal Children's Hospital Emergency Department and is currently being
treated and followed by the experts of the Trauma Program and of the
Ophthalmology Department.
    "The child suffered what is called a high velocity blunt trauma, that
caused severe damage to an eye and excessive bleeding," says Dr. Robert
Koenekoop, Director of the Ophthalmology Department. "It is still too early to
say just how extensive the damage will be, but, to be frank, some of the worst
eye injuries I've treated are those caused while playing paintball."
    It should also be noted many children also suffer multiple bruises and
welts after this activity.
    In May 2005, The MCH warned parents about the dangers of paintball after
10-year Daniel Romagnolo nearly lost an eye during a paintball party.
Tragically, this second incident occurred at the same paintball facility under
similar circumstances.
    Today, Daniel has undergone a number of procedures, including surgery, to
repair his eye. He continues to be followed by the team in ophthalmology and
the Trauma Program.
    In the case of this more recent tragedy, it seems the paintball round or
session had just concluded, and while walking off the field the child removed
his/her mask because of difficulty seeing through the paint covered goggles.
At this point, an adult who had been playing on the field during the same
session shot the younger player point-blank in the face.
    The Montreal Children's Hospital endorses the recommendations made by the
American Academy of Pediatrics, which include but are not limited to the
points below:

    
    - Paintball equipment must meet safety standards and must fit properly to
      protect a player's eyes. "The equipment used by many paintball
      companies is one size fits all, yes, there are straps that can be
      adjusted, but this does not afford younger, smaller children adequate
      protection," says Debbie Friedman
    - It is essential that equipment never be removed during play or even on
      the playing field. "Children are often easily distracted, impulsive and
      they may momentarily forget the rules or even panic during the game,
      especially if they get paint in the mouth or if they can't see. Do
      young children really have the judgment to participate in this type of
      activity?" wonders Friedman.
    - Close supervision by trained personnel is essential to make sure the
      safety rules are followed and to assist players if there is a problem.
      "One must question the caliber of supervision when a paintball facility
      allows children and adults to play together," says Friedman.

    "I feel compelled to once again warn parents of the potential dangers -
especially to younger children. How many tragedies do we need to have before
paintball companies, paintball facilities, and the manufacturers of paintball
equipment realize this is an inappropriate activity for children under the age
of 16. I am extremely concerned, especially since paintball is becoming an
increasingly popular summer time activity. Even some summer camps offer
paintball as a rainy-day activity. Paintball is also increasingly a backyard
activity where proper equipment may not be assured and supervision may not be
adequately supplied," says Friedman.

    (*) The parents of the 11-year-old have asked the MCH to keep their
        child's identity confidential, but they encouraged the hospital to
        issue this alert to prevent other children from being injured.
    




For further information:

For further information: Lisa Dutton, Manager, Public Relations and
Communications, The Montreal Children's Hospital, McGill University Health
Centre, (514) 412-4307


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