Exclusive: Pat Cusack talks 'Survivor: David vs. Goliath' and his shocking 'Survivor' medical evacuation (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/27/2018
Pat Cusack was medically evacuated from Survivor: David vs. Goliath after a freak boating accident during Wednesday night's special 90-minute premiere episode of Season 37 on CBS.
Pat, a 40-year-old maintenance manager from Cohoes, NY, who currently resides in Watervliet, NY, was forced to leave the game on Day 3 after injuring his back on the boat ride returning from the season's first Immunity Challenge.
Pat begged Survivor host Jeff Probst to stay in the game and continue competing for the $1 million, but his pain was so severe the medics worried his injury might be very serious. Pat therefore had no choice in the matter.
"To be out of the game not by vote but by pure accident, it's gut-wrenching, but my life and my health is bigger than this game. And ultimately, I will pick myself up off the beach, dust the sand off, and get back on my horse. As a David, it's what I've done for 41 years; it's the story of my life," Pat said following his ouster.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Pat talked about his short-lived Survivor experience and what went down with his shocking injury. Below is the first half of what Pat had to say.
Reality TV World: Can you explain in your own words what happened on the boat when you injured yourself because the broadcast last night left it a little unclear since camera crews obviously weren't filming on the transport boats.
Pat Cusack: Yeah, so we finished the challenge as everyone had seen, and we got back on the boats to head back to our camps. We were in 15 to 20-foot seas, you know, with the ocean being as active as it was because of the cyclones, the seas were pretty bad and the captain of the boat told us that right from the jump, as soon as we got on the boat.
He said, "It's going to be a rough ride. We've got about an hour and 20 minute ride back to our camp, and so, everybody just hunker down and we'll hope for the best."
Low and behold, I boarded the boat, and the next thing I know, I woke up and I'm in a helicopter.
Reality TV World: Wow, so you don't remember anything from being on the beach with Jeff Probst, the medics and your tribemates?
Pat Cusack: I don't have any memory of it. I got a little bit of closure last night seeing some of it, but yeah, from the time Captain Travis said, "Hey guys, we're going to be in bad seas," until I woke up with Dr. Lucy standing over me, asking me if I could hear her.
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Reality TV World: Do you know if you fell on the boat or hit your back against the side of the boat or something to cause the injury though?
Pat Cusack: Well, from what I gather from everybody else, the boat was airborne and when it landed back, I kind of got thrown up into the air and came back down and I compressed my spine.
Reality TV World: So what exactly did the injury turn out to be? Did you have fractures in your back as the medic had suggested? How serious was it?
Pat Cusack: I have a spinal deterioration between my second and third vertebrae. It compressed, I guess, the little water sacs in between your vertebrae, and one of them burst, causing deterioration.
Reality TV World: The conclusion of last night's episode shared with fans you made a full recovery, but what was that recovery process like? How long did it take until you were feeling like your old self again?
Pat Cusack: Well, after being evacuated out of the game, I stayed on-location and we did some rehab and physical therapy and some exercises and stuff while I was there. But once I got back stateside, I had to go to the doctor and see a spine specialist.
There's nothing they could do. It's not going to need surgery or anything like that. It took a lot of physical therapy and rehab.
Reality TV World: So does your recovery continue? Are you still doing physical therapy?
Pat Cusack: Well, I'm cleared by all the doctors and my physical-therapy sessions are all done. So yeah, my health is good right now. I'm just about at 100 percent, but I still have a little bit of [pain].
You know, if the weather is bad or something like that, if it's cold or wet, I might get a little stiff in the back. But there's no limitations for what I'm able to do now.
Reality TV World: That's great. So it sounds like you were able to go back to work.
Pat Cusack: Yeah, absolutely. I've still got to go to work because I didn't win a million dollars. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Right, of course. (Laughs) Were you surprised to see your tribemates get as emotional as they did once you left the show? And I'm sure watching the episode back must have been emotional for you as well?
Pat Cusack: Yeah, their support was awesome! Obviously I've spoken to them since we've gotten back stateside and stuff, and they all expressed their concerns and were wanting to know how everything went -- am I better, this and that.
But seeing how emotional everybody was on the beach last night on TV, it instills in me that even though we were complete strangers, everybody has a heart, man.
In a situation such as that, it can get emotional even if you don't know someone that well. It was a scary situation and it could've been one of them, but unfortunately it was me.
Reality TV World: When your tribe started building its shelter, some of your tribemates got annoyed by your leadership. [Christian Hubicki], for example, said people were being rubbed the wrong way by your demands. Did you get that sense while you were out there or was that a surprise to you watching last night's episode back? What was your reaction to that?
Pat Cusack: No, it was definitely a surprise, because you don't hear that snickering while you're out there because everybody is doing something behind somebody's back. It's not like I was trying to be that way, but I was basically the only one who has any kind of construction background.
And when we won the shelter-building kit, I just went into it kind of like the lead contractor on the job. I know how to build, I know how to swing a hammer, and I was just trying to make it so that everybody was comfortable and had a place to sleep other than the mud.
I didn't realize I was probably being a little on the bossy side, but at the same time, I can't gather the material and build it at the same time. So maybe I said it in the wrong tone or whatever it was, but I was just trying to delegate everybody a job so we could all work in unison.
And unfortunately, some people didn't feel that was probably the best move, but I wasn't trying to be a boss deliberately. I was just trying to build a shelter and have people contribute to the cause.
Be sure to check back with Reality TV World soon for the second and third parts of our exclusive interview with Pat Cusack.