The Owen Sound doctor featured in the History Alone channel’s survival series

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This is called the ultimate test of human will.

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History Channel Survival Reality Series Season 9 Only premieres May 26 and features Owen Sound’s Dr. Teimojin Tan.

The premise of the show is simple, 10 contestants equipped with just 10 items of their choice are dropped off in a remote wilderness valley along the great Labrador River. The person who lasts the longest wins the $500,000 prize.

“It’s a challenge of pure human will, skill and knowledge,” Tan said. “At first you think you’re competing against each other, but once you get there you’re completely on your own and it’s amazing how hard you can push your body.”

Tan, 31, works as a general practitioner at Gray Bruce Health Services and in emergency rooms at hospitals in Wiarton, Lion’s Head and Southampton.

He has a large following online where he is often referred to as the survival doctor. His Instagram feed (@survival.doctors) offers short videos explaining to his more than 12,000 followers how to dress and clean wounds and create improvised tourniquets.

His experience of survival in the Labrador wilderness will air on the History Channel in 11 90-minute episodes.

There are no film crews. The candidates film themselves. They are responsible for all elements of their survival without any assistance. Survivors have to contend with wildlife, including polar bears and high winds from the North Atlantic.

The last one standing, the contestant who never calls and asks for rescue, wins the half-million dollar cash prize.

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Tan’s experience was the culmination of a life lived pushing boundaries and testing boundaries.

Tan grew up in Montreal in a family that often traveled for work. When he was a teenager, he bought one-way tickets to distant places and got lost. He’s been through the Amazon rainforest, hiked volcanoes, and once fell into a ravine after fainting at altitude.

During his travels, he developed a fascination and appreciation for indigenous cultures and online bushcraft and survivalist communities. He worked for non-profit organizations in South America, Ghana and East Africa before joining the Canadian Army Reserve as an infantry soldier at the age of 17.

“When you are young and find yourself in dangerous situations, you become smart, realize that you need additional training and knowledge,” he said of his decision to join the army. .

Part of his training in the army included cold weather warfare and survival. Tan and a small group of soldiers carried 50-pound packs and towed 200-pound sleds for miles in the subarctic and arctic. He said the experience taught him to improvise in an emergency.

“Plans always go wrong. I think it’s almost like anticipating that things are going to go wrong and that’s not a bad thing. It’s almost like a challenge or a game to change that mindset,” he said.

After six years as a member of the military, Tan enrolled in medical school in Michigan where he quickly experienced a different kind of survival.

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In an effort to save money and remain financially independent while studying, Tan spent time living in his van. He showered at Planet Fitness and survived on free hospital or gym food, while attending 5 a.m. trauma surgeries and interviewing for residencies.

“On really long days, I would store these little parts for the massage chair and pass out,” he said. “It’s a different kind of survival.”

Throughout it all, Tan has kept his skills sharp.

“I would choose a point on a map that doesn’t seem to be very accessible to the public and take a raft or hike to practice my skills there,” he said.

Apply to participate in a show like Only was just another challenge for Tan. He had done expeditions on his own before, but he knew he would have to push himself further than ever.

“I have all this knowledge now, where is the limit? What if I were to push myself to the absolute line and then go beyond it?” He wondered. “You have to be willing to put your life on the line. Very realistically, you’re putting your life on the line.”

The 10 items Tan chose to take to Labrador were a sleeping bag, an axe, a multi-tool, a ferro rod (firelighter), a two-quart pot, a bow and arrow, a paracord , trap wire, fishing line with hooks and emergency rations.

Tan said he knew he would need to tap into some kind of emotional reservoir when he was alone in the middle of nowhere, hungry and cold and needed a boost of energy.

He calls it rooting in reason.

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“Doing it yourself is a very difficult thing to do. One thing that I think was monumental to my longevity there was doing it for other people,” he said. “It’s almost like an out of body experience where something out there lifts you up. It’s hard to describe. It’s like an energy that doesn’t come from food that will keep you going in any situation. difficult for a very long time.

He wants to inspire his family in Montreal and anyone else who feels stuck in their lives, either because they’re too comfortable or because they’re too afraid to fail.

“I hope to inspire them to want to do things that I think they deserve, that they might not think they deserve, or to do things for their health and well-being that they might not feel- not be able,” he said. “It’s terrifying to think you can’t do something new and it’s incredibly uncomfortable to feel like you have to try something new to have a glimmer of hope. . . it’s becoming increasingly rare for people to pursue their dreams these days and hopefully that will change.

The Season 9 premiere of Alone will air May 26 at 10 p.m. on the History Channel. The show is also available to stream on StackTV and through Amazon Prime.


Tan has spent his life surviving in some of the harshest conditions in this world, but most hikers on the Bruce Peninsula this summer will never be out of earshot or cell coverage. Still, it does offer some useful advice.

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For those looking to get away on the water, he suggests always wearing a life jacket and keeping their phone in a waterproof case. He said hypothermia is possible even in the hottest months and especially if people are caught off guard overnight and forced to camp on an island or shore. He said people should come prepared by bringing some sort of signaling device and knowing how to keep warm in those situations.

The peninsula is known for its popular hiking trails and Tan knows from his work with the area’s emergency services that this can mean broken bones and sprains. He suggests using hiking poles, packing a brace if you’re susceptible to joint injuries, and wearing athletic tape to help with minor bumps and cuts.

If a loud pop, click or snap is accompanied by a sharp pain that could mean something more serious. He said that in this case people should try to take their boot off and reduce the swelling either with medication or by soaking their foot in the cold waters of Georgian Bay.

Finally, he suggests anyone who cuts themselves to clean the wound to prevent infection and suggests that clean water is as good as anything to help with the task.

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