The 10 Craziest Times That Survivor Players Were Medically Evacuated

They don’t call it Survivor for nothing! While still a reality show and therefore subjected to things like proper health and safety procedures, accidents do happen, especially out in the middle of nowhere.

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Survivor is a very physically challenging game, and it has been the subject of numerous medical evacuations throughout the years. Some of these evacuations come from debilitating injuries, others from medical maladies like an upset stomach. Regardless, it’s always scary when it happens—after all, who wants to watch someone suffering? That doesn’t make for fun TV.

10 Michael Skupin Burns His Hands

The Australian Outback was only the show’s second season, and while it was one of Survivor‘s most fun locations of all time, it also proved that the show really is no joke. While tending to the fire, Michael accidentally inhaled some of the smoke and passed out. Unfortunately, he fainted directly into the fire and severely burned both of his palms. He rushed into the river to relieve the pain and showed the camera that skin was peeling off his palms. Needless to say, he was immediately evacuated. This was the first—and still one of the worst—medical evacuations in the show’s history.

9 Jonathan Penner Suffers An Infected Knee

Survivor: Micronesia actually saw two medical evacuations. The first was Jonathan Penner, who cut his knee during one of the reward challenges. It wasn’t the cut itself that pulled Jonathan from the game; it was the nasty infection that followed. Jonathan stayed in the game for a few more days, but his massively inflated, swollen, and purple knee began to concern Jeff, and he had the medical team evaluate Jonathan. It was deemed far too serious to ignore, and Jonathan was pulled from the game.

8 James Clement Suffers An Infected Finger

James Clement From Survivor

The second Micronesia evacuation was James Clement, who also suffered a serious infection. James had cut his finger, and, like Jonathan, had ignored the injury. Also like Jonathan, medical staff was eventually called in to examine the wound. They deduced that the infection could spread across his body and cause some serious damage to his joints if left untreated. James heeded their warning and was taken out of the game, but reluctantly. He was even more heartbroken than when he got himself voted out of Survivor: China with two immunity idols in his pocket.

7 Joe Dowdle Suffers An Infected Leg

Another victim of infection was Joe Dowdle, who competed on Survivor: Tocantins. Joe had suffered an infection in his leg, and it was growing so bad that he was asked to refrain from participating in challenges. The medical team took a look at the leg and determined that the infection could spread to his bones if left untreated.

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The medical team even believed that the limb would need to be amputated—and that Joe might even die—if he ignored the infection any longer. Needless to say, he was swiftly taken from the game.

6 Russell Swan Passes Out

Russell Swan was a contestant on Survivor: Samoa. He passed out during one of the immunity challenges, causing Jeff to halt the challenge and call in medical staff. Once they saw to the recently revived Russell, he fainted yet again. They deduced that dehydration had caused his blood pressure to plummet, causing him to pass out. Russell was quickly taken out of the game, as he genuinely feared for his life. Still, he made a mark on the show, becoming a fan-favorite Survivor player despite not making the merge.

5 Kourtney Moon Fractures Her Hand

Unfortunately, Kourtney Moon didn’t even make it past the first immunity challenge in Survivor: One World. The challenge saw contestants jumping into a giant net from a great height. Jeff instructed the contestants to keep their hands near their chests, but Kourtney instinctively put her hands out to protect herself from the fall. She landed hard on her hand and struggled to complete the remainder of the challenge. After Kourtney reported feeling dizzy, Jeff had medical brought in and they quickly determined that her hand and wrist had fractured.

4 Shamar Thomas Gets Sand In His Eye

Viewers really never know what’s going to happen on Survivor, and, sometimes, even a grain of sand can put players out of the game. While competing on Caramoan, Shamar got a small grain of sand in his eyeball and reported that his eye was feeling very itchy and scratchy.

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Medical was brought in and discovered that he had a scratched cornea. They also said that, if left untreated, he could suffer from a corneal abrasion and lose sight in his eye. Thus, the injury required Shamar to leave the game.

3 Pat Cusack Injures His Back

In a terribly dramatic scene from the premiere of Survivor: David vs. Goliath, Pat Cusack seriously injured his back while returning to camp after an immunity challenge. The boat ride back was hit by inclement weather, resulting in very rough and choppy water. This water caused the boat to crash into a wave and hurting Pat’s back. While viewers didn’t see the accident itself, they see Pat (in a great amount of pain) being transported onto the beach by the medical team. They were afraid that Pat had fractured his back, and he was swiftly taken from the game. It stands as one of the most dramatic and scariest moments in Survivor history.

2 Caleb Reynolds Collapses

Survivor: Kaôh Rōng proved brutally difficult for a number of contestants, including Caleb Reynolds. During a particularly difficult reward challenge, three separate survivors collapsed from the heat and exhaustion. While two were cleared and given the OK, Caleb wasn’t. Caleb was audibly gasping while laying on the ground and seemed to pass out in front of the medical team. He had a temperature of 110 degrees and was diagnosed with heatstroke. Seeing as how heatstroke can be fatal if left untreated, Caleb was promptly removed from the game and received immediate medical attention.

1 Colton Cumbie Gets Appendicitis

Colton Cumbie of is a very controversial Survivor contestant due to his poor behavior during Survivor: One World. Still, he was invited back to participate in Survivor: Blood vs. Water. After reportedly suffering from a headache, Colton collapsed in the forest and was helped back to camp by his nemesis, Christina. When Jeff and the medical team came to check on him, he was found curled up in a ball. He reported severe stomach pain, and the medics said it was appendicitis. Deeming that it was too risky to stay in the game, they pulled Colton from the game. Not that his fellow castaways minded much.

NEXT: The 10 Best Idol Plays In Survivor History, Ranked


An earlier version of this post included a photo of Jeremy Collins instead of James Clement.

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