See Something, Do Something — New NYC CPR Program, Thanks To A Woman Who Did

Hire her! It’s one thing to see a problem, another to not stop until you’ve helped to create a solution.

I loved this story in today’s New York Times about an unemployed woman, Laura van Straaten, who saw someone giving CPR on a slushy street corner, wanted to learn CPR and found that busy New Yorkers living in small apartments made rounding up volunteers tougher than she’d anticipated:

With the help of her city government liaisons, Ms. van Straaten, who previously worked mostly with glossy media outlets like NBC and The Daily Beast, started meeting with people at the Fire Department. Once the firefighting brass embraced her idea, it was easy to get New York Sports Clubs, which has gyms in all five boroughs and plenty of empty rooms during downtime, to commit to a partnership.

A month ago, Ms. van Straaten ran a meeting at City Hall with people from the mayor’s office, the Fire Department and New York Sports Clubs. That none of the people there answer to her or pay her is testament not just to her will but also to the city’s willingness to facilitate the unpaid workaholism of an obliging citizen. “I remember one long phone conversation about the details of the training program that I had with Laura as she was making stuffing the night before her first big Thanksgiving,” said Lisa Hufcut, public relations director for New York Sports Clubs. “It went late.”

Wednesday marks the official kickoff of FDNY CPR to Go, a three-month pilot program in which members of the Fire Department will offer CPR training at 28 gyms around the city. (It’s free for members and nonmembers alike.) If it works, Ms. van Straaten imagines that CPR training might expand to other fitness facilities throughout the city.

Even Ms. van Straaten, who is avidly pursuing full-time work as an executive at a media company, is a little surprised by how much has happened as a result of a routine walk to the grocery store that snowy December day.

2 thoughts on “See Something, Do Something — New NYC CPR Program, Thanks To A Woman Who Did

  1. Facebook User

    Caitlin, Thanks so much for the shout-out! I hope you and all your NYC friends will sign up for a free, hour-long CPR training through, now through 3/31/09 at NYSCs around the city – and hopefully longer if the program is a big success.

    Just one quick note: I’m not unemployed, but just “under-employed” as NYT put it. Since the company where I was VP for content shut down in 2008 I’ve consulted a bunch for different media clients and done freelance journalism for some big publications, but it’s just not full time.

    So, as you said – “hire her”; FDNY CPR to Go has been fun and rewarding and I hope to stay involved ….but I’m ready to go back to getting a regular pay-check!

    Many thanks,
    Laura van Straaten

    PS. I’ve been following True/Slant’s success -having worked with a couple of your colleagues (including Lewis I think?) when I was at AOL!

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