NBC News’ Jeff Rossen: ‘When Something Goes Wrong, You Have A Split Second To React’

By Brian Flood 

NBC national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen’s new series, Rossen Reports: Save My Life, airs all this week on the Today show. The series documents simple ways to save someone’s life during worst-case scenario situations. Each day a new segment will address a different life-threatening situation, including: drowning, choking, a heart attack, insect bites and how to put out a kitchen fire. We caught up with Rossen for 5 Questions to discuss what inspired the series, the scariest thing he’s encountered and even his favorite meal.

TVNewser: Your new series details how to save someone’s life in various scenarios. What inspired this series? Did you find yourself in one of these scary situations?

Rossen: We saw recent numbers showing less than three percent of Americans are trained in CPR. Got me thinking– I’d have no clue what to do if someone was drowning or choking or having a heart attack in front of me. Boom. “Save My Life” series is born. My wife tells a story that still haunts her. When she was a kid, she was on the beach and a man started choking and everyone, including his own family, just stood there, unsure of what to do. The man didn’t make it. That story stayed with me. If we can’t use this amazing platform to educate and inform in visual and compelling ways then what are we doing? I have kids so I’ve definitely had some choking close-calls. Always hot dogs.

TVNewser: I’m somewhat neurotic and a borderline germaphobe. Your segments have already ruined cruise ship, hot tubs, tubing and cliff diving for me. Well, I wouldn’t have jumped off a cliff anyway. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever seen on an assignment?

Rossen: Sorry to ruin cruises… but public hot tubs? C’mon, I did you and your speedo a favor. Seriously, I never want to ruin anything. I’m not the fun police. But doing these activities with your eyes wide open is important. When something goes wrong, you have a split second to react. If we drill safety tips into your mind, it can truly help. Also, I’m so scared of heights. So, when I stood at the edge of the cliff…no. Just no.

TVNewser: Do you allow your children to partake in activities that could be considered dangerous?

Rossen: My kids don’t live in a bubble, especially my three-year-old son. Just this weekend he did something he’s never done before. He took a running jump into the pool. Came just inches from bashing his head on the cement corner. Literally inches. I said, “Dude, it’s so nice out, I just don’t feel like rushing you to the hospital. So, can you please just stand at the edge and jump in?” Experts would probably say kids shouldn’t be jumping in, period. But hey, let them be kids.

TVNewser: Despite all the germs and danger, your job has to be one of the best gigs in TV news. Did you ever think you’d be getting paid to hang around pools in the Hamptons and bars in Jamaica?

Rossen: First of all, ixnay on the Hamptons-ay and Jamaica-ay. My bosses may catch on. I DO have one of the best gigs in TV news but look, we go where the stories are. We recently did a series called “Vacation Undercover,” so yeah, we went to the hottest vacation spots. So much research goes into each segment. We figure out the best place to illustrate the problem and, ideally, witness it happening. Sometimes that’s Jamaica. Sometimes it’s Spokane.

TVNewser: Your reporting brings you all over the place. What is the best meal you’ve had recently? Restaurant and exact order, please.

Rossen: Hands down the best meal I’ve had was in South Africa while covering the Oscar Pistorius trial. There’s a place called the Stanley Beer Yard in Johannesburg. Believe it or not, our local cameraman owned it. Can you say FREE BEER? They have this amazing pulled pork sandwich but my favorite was “Sausage Fest,” a trio of the best meats. South Africa has some of the best food I’ve eaten. Mind you, I live in NYC. I have to eat better now because of our #startTODAY series. Jenna Wolfe and Joy Bauer put me on a fitness and nutrition regiment. It’s working. I’ve lost 22 pounds so far. Turns out, beer and sausage isn’t on the plan.

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