Reality Shows May Put Crews Too Close to Cutting Edge

With television budgets getting ever smaller and action-adventure reality series becoming more popular, some production companies are cutting corners when it comes to the safety of their cast and crew.

Monica Martino had filmed tornadoes in the Midwest, ship collisions in the Antarctic and crab fishermen in Alaska’s Bering Sea. But those experiences didn’t prepare her for a terrifying nighttime boat ride in the Amazon jungle.

In February, the 41-year-old co-executive producer was thrown into a murky river after getting footage for “Bamazon,” a series for the History cable channel about out-of-work Alabama construction workers mining for gold in the rain forest of Guyana.

Martino says the captain was blind in one eye and sailing too fast without a proper light. He lost control of the boat while making a hard turn, sending the crew into the river, where Martino was knocked out by the impact of hitting the water at high speed.

Pulled back into the boat, Martino regained consciousness. But on the journey back to base camp, the vessel struck a tree, slamming Martino into the deck. Although she sustained a concussion, bruised ribs and a badly torn shoulder, Martino said, she had to wait 19 hours to receive medical care at a clinic in Venezuela because the production company had no viable medical evacuation plan for the crew.

History and the production company, Red Line Films, declined to comment.

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