Jan 10, 2024 - Health

YouTube tries to make it easier for you to help in a medical emergency

Illustration of hands using a smartphone

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

First things first: If there's an emergency, call 911.

  • But then, maybe check YouTube for quick advice on how to help, the tech giant says.

Driving the news: YouTube is launching a new feature directing users to short, step-by-step first-aid tutorials on how to deliver potentially life-saving care — such as directions on performing CPR, recognizing a heart attack or administering overdose reversal drug Narcan — before first responders arrive.

The big picture: It's the company's latest move to combat health misinformation — a problem supercharged by the pandemic — by providing high-quality, vetted information.

  • It also comes as policymakers are pushing for expanded access to emergency measures like Narcan and defibrillators that the general public can use but aren't familiar with.
  • YouTube partnered with Mass General Brigham and the Mexican Red Cross to produce content that will be pinned on the website to appear first when searched.
  • Previously when viewers searched for these sorts of videos, YouTube would have prioritized information from authoritative health sources, but they weren't necessarily the most helpful videos in an emergency.
  • Other videos in the new initiative will help viewers recognize and respond to seizures, psychosis, choking, stroke, bleeding, snake bites and poisoning.

Between the lines: It's part of a bigger shift in the health care industry seeking to empower consumers as it recognizes the most impactful events to a person's health happen outside health care settings, said Garth Graham, head of YouTube Health.

  • "It's not happening in our hospital setting, or in my patients' visit, because my patients might spend 15 minutes with me," Graham said. "They're out in the world. How are we a part of that exchange out in the world?"

Our thought bubble: It also seems like a natural evolution for a how-to generation already used to watching tutorials for advice on everything from how to fix your car to how to update the kitchen.

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