Douglasville’s Cydney Gillon nearly booted from ‘Survivor’ for heat exhaustion

Cydney Gillon was almost evacuated for heat exhaustion in the fourth episode of "Survivor." CREDIT: CBS

Cydney Gillon was almost evacuated for heat exhaustion in the fourth episode of “Survivor.” CREDIT: CBS

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Thursday, March 10, 2016

Douglasville bodybuilder Cydney Gillon was almost medically evacuated from CBS’s “Survivor” in last night’s episode for heat exhaustion after a brutal reward challenge in the punishing Cambodia heat.

The challenge included finding three bags of plastic balls in a huge circle of sand. This portion was especially brutal and took the three teams more than 45 minutes. Ultimately, the Brains and Beauty tribes won and Brawn lost. But that wasn’t all that important.

Rather, an unprecedented three “Survivor” contestants went down with heat exhaustion. First was Debbie Warner, a Jill of All Trades on the Brains team. She self identified her medical condition (she felt “like being roasted alive”) ‘while two other teams were still competing. She ultimately recovered as doctors poured cold water on her. Someone stood over her with an umbrella to give her shade.

After the challenge ended, things got even crazier. Brawn player Cydney fell victim to heat exhaustion at about the same time as Beauty player Caleb Reynolds (who has been on CBS’s sister show “Big Brother”) collapsed. Cydney was tearful but stayed conscious. At times, Caleb appeared unresponsive. He was clearly in worse shape as medical personnel placed ice on him from coolers and gave him intravenous fluids.

A medic then told Jeff Probst that the show needed to get a helicopter to medically evacuate Caleb and possibly Cydney. Fortunately for Cydney, the doctors decided she had recovered enough to stay in the game. Caleb? Not so much. The Beauty team tearfully watched their teammate leave against his will.

Read Jeff Probst‘s Q&A with EW about the unprecedented medical emergency and how the “Survivor” crew handled it with aplomb.

Later, the Brawn team lost the immunity challenge for the third time in four episodes. Already down to four players, they had to cut once again and the ditzy Alecia Holden was voted out.

With only two allies left on her Brawn team, Cydney will certainly be in trouble in a merge situation unless she finds a way to connect with players from the other teams.

Local Delta Air Lines attendant and “Survivor” season 3 contestant Teresa Cooper watched this compelling episode amazed that these folks fought so hard over cooking equipment, condiments and coffee.

“These are all Type A personalities,” said Cooper, known on the show as T-Bird back in 2001 when she competed. “They would want to win even if nothing was involved.”

She was shocked to see Caleb and Cydney hit the dirt.

“Cydney is clearly a tough woman to put herself through extreme conditions to look the way she does,” she said. And though Cydney is in a bad position with a weakened Brawn group, she thinks her social game is better than it may appear on the surface based on her relationship with Alecia.

She also thinks the other teams might have seen her as a threat given her physique but paradoxically, her collapse might help her down the road in terms of her survival.

Cooper tried to get on the season 31 all stars crew but didn’t get the votes.

“Survivor,” 8 p.m. Wednesdays, CBS

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