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 26, 2007 - “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 more information contact:

Lisa Dutton
Public Relations and Communications
The Montreal Children’s Hospital
McGill University Health Centre
514 412-4307