SOS JapanTwo tweets to @AmbassadorRoos were all it took to mobilize aid from U.S. troops to Kameda hospital in Japan.

A USA Today article explores the ways help was deployed through social media and more specifically, Twitter, after Japan’s catastrophic earthquake.

Nine days after the disaster hit two urgent pleas for help appeared on the Twitter stream of U.S. Ambassador John Roos.

“Kameda hospital in Chiba needs to transfer 80 patients from Kyoritsu hospital in Iwaki city, just outside of 30km(sic) range.”

“Some of them are seriously ill and they need air transport. If US military can help, pls contact (name withheld) at Kameda.”

These tweets instantly sent an S.O.S. to the top U.S. diplomat in Japan.

During all the chaos Twitter proved to be more reliable than phones, emails and even, Facebook. Two hours after the disaster Red Cross teams in Virginia seized a tweet from a housewife in Japan who reported the roof of a school gym in Kokubunzi had collapsed with students trapped inside. Soon after helicopters were hovering overhead, rescuing everyone inside.

Twitter is quickly leading the way in sharing breaking news and communicating in times of emergency. It’s only been five years and Twitter is already alerting first responders to emergencies, creating crisis maps for rescue teams in disaster zones and helping friends and family find lost loved-ones. What we are learning is it’s not the experts who know something; it’s someone in the crowd.