Season 7 of the History Channel reality series Alone premiered on June 11, and Episode 1 indicated that this might be the most competitive group of survivalists the show has ever seen.
It took 10 days for the first contestant to tap out, an impressive feat compared to the start of past seasons. (Remember when Desmond White quit after just five hours?) Despite speculation that the series is staged, producers have admitted that accidentally letting someone die in the wilderness is a legitimate concern for them.
Has anyone died on 'Alone'?
Thankfully, no one has ever passed away while competing on the series, and we highly doubt that the History Channel would continue to air it if someone had. "When we set out to make this show, it was always about everyone’s safety first and the show second," EP Shawn Witt told Reality Blurred in 2017.
"We don’t ever want to be in a situation where there’s a headline that says somebody died or almost died on our show," he noted. "It doesn’t make sense for us; it doesn’t make sense for the network."
Though every participant in the series’ five-year run has managed to make it out alive, medical evacuations are a major source of contention each season due to the fact that some contestants don’t have a choice when it comes to leaving the game.
In Season 3, for example, a winner was declared because of a forced evacuation. Carleigh Fairchild, who had lasted 86 days in the foothills of South America’s Andes Mountains, immediately started crying when she was told that her BMI (body mass index) was too low to continue.
"I felt myself getting thinner," she shared at the time, calling the narrow defeat "disappointing" since she claimed to have felt "really good most of the time mentally, emotionally, spiritually."
In his chat with Reality Blurred, Witt explained that the only interaction contestants have with other human beings throughout the show is during their weekly check-ups with the medical team. If a person’s BMI is 17 or lower, they’re automatically removed from the competition given the heightened risk of organ failure that can cause.
Fairchild was eliminated when her BMI measured 16.8. Doctors revealed that if she had kept going in the state she was in, the then 28-year-old could’ve suffered permanent damage to her digestive and nervous systems, as well as her eyesight.
The longer competitors last, the more frequent their check-ups become.
Witt said that once the show reaches the 45-day mark, contestants are evaluated every three to four days because "there’s no medical precedent for that sort of survival situation with the lack of food."
Former Alone champion Ted Baird, who won the series’ only "pairs" season alongside his brother Jim, told Global News in 2017 that it takes a certain type of person — and a helluva lot of training — to survive in the wilderness for that long.
"I would liken it to someone preparing for the Olympics or the triathlon — there’s a huge mental discipline as well as the physical," he shared. "Your mental memory needs to be trained and exercised just as much, if not more, than your body."
New episodes of Alone air Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on History Channel.