One of the reasons Amateur Radio continues to enjoy its privileged position on the airwaves is the legendary ability of hams to organize and respond to disasters and emergencies. "When All Else Fails..." is a popular ham motto and it's true! Because amateur radio doesn't depend on extensive support systems, ham stations are likely to be able to operate while the public communications networks are recovering from a hurricane or earthquake. Hams are also self-organized in teams that train to respond quickly and provide communications wherever it's needed. It's not necessary to have big emergency for hams to pitch in, we're also providing public service by assisting with communications at parades, sporting events, or serving as weather watchers.
Hams recognize the value of Amateur Radio to their communities and have created training programs, such as the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), that promote readiness. The ARRL offers several Emergency Communications (or "Emcomm") training classes over the Internet, too. Hams often work closely with other citizen volunteer teams, with many also certified as emergency response workers with a wide variety of skills such as first aid, search-and-rescue, and so forth. Hams hone their message-handling skills in "traffic" nets that pass routine messages around the country so that they'll be ready when called upon for real.