COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – A North Collier Fire battalion chief makes a debut on Discovery Channel’s hit show Naked and Afraid.
Batallion Chief Robert Smith isn’t the one getting naked, instead he is behind the scenes saving lives. On the most recent episode of Naked and Afraid, Smith steps in to help a contestant.
Naked and Afraid is a survivalist show where one man and one woman stay in the wild for 21 days. The rules: no clothes, no food and no water.
One 2015 episode took two survivalists into the everglades in Southwest Florida. On the series, it’s rare to see the camera crew or a medic but Smith managed to get nearly a minute on air (that’s a lot in the television world).
“It’s strange to see yourself on TV for sure,” said Smith. “I’ll never forget it.”
Smith has been a firefighter and medic for 25 years and currently works with North Collier Fire. The show was new territory, some he almost didn’t cross.
“When they asked me to do it, at first I was like ‘no.’ I don’t think I could do that and my wife wouldn’t let me,” said Smith. “But she wanted me to do it.”
“I was nervous for him because of the environment and snakes. It made me very nervous,” said Smith’s wife Christine. “So I was glad when he came home safe. We were so proud of him.”
Smith proved to be a vital asset on the sideline getting called in when it mattered most. On Day 16, the female contestant needed out.
“She had abdominal pain so I was taking her temperature, checking her heart,” said Smith.
The woman had to “tap out.” Naked, Smith gave her his extra clothes to wear to the hospital.
“She didn’t have her clothes, I had a bag. I gave her my shirt and boxer briefs to get to the hospital.”
He added, “my job changed, I couldn’t prevent injury, but if they got injured then I could treat them. That is tough, very different from my job as a firefighter.”
With snakes and gators all around, a spot on the show was not something he sought after but he may have found a new road for his future.
“Maybe it’s something to do when I retire,” said Smith. “I would do it again.”
Smith tells WINK News there was a total of six people from Collier County behind the scenes of the show. He personally spent 11 of the 21 days in the Everglades. He and the others worked in shifts. He says there are always medics nearby but they don’t see the contestants unless they get called in for an emergency.