It's not about the technology, it's about readiness and willingness to participate. For example:
AMATEURS RESTORE CITY'S POLICE, FIRE DISPATCHING
Volunteers from the Tulsa Amateur Radio Club helped to restore police and fire dispatching service in Collinsville, Oklahoma, after flames destroyed the city's radio gear and disrupted 911 service December 1. The early-morning fire badly damaged the 88-year-old Collinsville City Hall, which housed the community's police and fire departments and other offices.
"The city's communication system was functioning, but 911 calls were re-routed to a nearby city, because all the dispatch equipment was lost in the fire," said Oklahoma ARRL Public Information Coordinator Mark Conklin, N7XYO. Even the antenna was lost. As a result, the city had to find a temporary home for police and fire dispatch.
Collinsville, a community of some 4000 people, is located about 12 miles north of Tulsa.
Conklin says Collinsville arranged to set up its dispatching center in the Collinsville Rural fire station.
Area amateurs alerted to the devastating fire quickly responded to help, and Tim Diehl, KB5ZVC, notified ARRL Oklahoma Section Manager Charlie Calhoun, K5TTT. TARC Public Service Liaison Dan Lamoreaux, WG5Z, rounded up Gregg Wonderly, W5GGW, Dave Smith, KD5OIJ, and Tom Roininen, KB5HMZ, as additional volunteers. The volunteers brought the club's portable repeater system, which had been built using commercial radio equipment converted for amateur use.
Conklin says the amateurs reprogrammed the repeater for the police and fire departments to use as an emergency dispatch radio. "By 9 o'clock that evening all systems were totally operational and police and fire dispatching was being handled though the club's loaned radio equipment," Conklin said.
Established in 1924, the Tulsa Amateur Radio Club is the state's oldest ham radio club. It operates the W5IAS linked repeater system and its members are active in public service.--Mark Conklin, N7XYO/TARC
A similar occurance happened in Houston last year, when flooding completely disabled the fire department's dispatch system. Radio amateurs were dispatched to each fire station to receive dispatches. The net control station would read an address requiring assistance. The nearest remote station would respond after determining that the address was in their area.