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“Survivor 46” host Jeff Probst clarifies medical evacuation rules

The host takes us behind the scenes of the latest medevac, and explains whether Randen could have handed off his advantage on his way out.

When Survivor host Jeff Probst shows up on your beach, it is rarely to deliver good news. This week on Survivor 46, it was Randen Montalvo who was on the receiving end of both a visit and the dreaded news that usually follows.

Randen was medically evacuated from the game after his right hand and wrist went numb and he was unable to grip with it. Originally thought to be a lower pinched nerve aggravated by — of all things — sleeping, the injury was later feared to be possibly more problematic after Dr. Will consulted with a neurosurgeon colleague. That led to worry of a chance that it could be a bulging disc in the neck area pushing on the nerve, which would be more serious and could only be checked by having an MRI. And to get that MRI, Randen would have to be pulled from the game.

It was a brutal way for Randen to go, although there really was no other option and the player took his evacuation in stride. EW caught up with the host to get the scoop on what went on behind the scenes towards making the decision to pull Randen, what it was like then giving the Yanu tribe the good news that none of them were going home as a result, and if Randen could have handed off his Beware Advantage to Venus before he left. (The answer may surprise you.)

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Jeff Probst on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Jeff Probst on 'Survivor 46'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Can you just walk us through how and when the decision was made on needing to remove Randen, and how you all jumped into action once that decision was made?

JEFF PROBST: When the injury occurred, our doctor, Dr. Will Duffin, gave Randen a thorough examination and determined it was nerve damage in his arm. Because we never want to pull a player from the game unless we truly believe it is urgent, Dr. Will allowed Randen to stay in the game for the time being. We continued to monitor him as Dr. Will quickly started making calls to other doctors who specialize in the field of nerve damage. After these consultations, Dr. Will made the decision that there was the possibility this could be more serious, and for those reasons we pulled Randen from the game.

He was immediately taken for further testing and we are happy to report that it was not more serious and he has fully recovered. Situations like this are really unfortunate because even though it may only be a slight risk, the health of the player is always our number one concern. And while we do have an impressive emergency medical team on site, we don’t have access to things like an MRI, so we always have to err on the side of caution.

I was very impressed with how Dr. Will handled it. He was on the phone for hours to ensure that the decision he made was the right one. I was also very impressed with how Randen handled it. He certainly did not want to leave the game, but he has a full life with a career and kids and did not want to risk anything to his health. He was grateful for the concern and care he received from our medical team, and even though it was very disappointing to lose him, I’m very glad we made the decision we did.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Tevin Davis and Randen Montalvo on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Tevin Davis and Randen Montalvo on 'Survivor 46'

Venus talked about Randen leaving the game with an advantage in his pocket. We know advantages cannot be passed off after someone has been voted out, but could Randen have passed off his advantage to Venus here on his way out? 

When it comes to a player being evacuated, the rules for giving another player any kind of advantage or idol are really clear: You must do it before you are officially pulled from the game. If Randen wanted to give something to Venus, he could have done it at any point up until Dr. Will said “for those reasons, we are pulling you from the game.” This means he could have literally interrupted Dr. Will and said “Wait! Before you pull me…” and given Venus his advantage. But the minute he’s pulled, that option is gone.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> The Yanu tribe on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

The Yanu tribe on 'Survivor 46'

What was it like going from the polar emotional opposites of delivering the heartbreak over on Nami with the Randen news to then informing Yanu that they did not need to vote anybody out at Tribal Council? 

Those kinds of moments are a really good example of why Survivor is so fun to play. The game is never static. Bad news for one player can be great news for a different player. It’s the same for me in my role as host. The game is always in flux, and you truly never know what is in store from one moment to the next. It’s not even as simple as saying “When you wake up in the morning you never know what’s in store” because it’s 24/7. Once the game starts, there is no stopping, so there is no morning per se. It’s 26 straight days of 24/7. Anything can happen at any time. It keeps producers and players on their toes. It’s absolutely exhausting, but simultaneously exhilarating!

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