The unlikely COVID heroes of India's Twittersphere

"I can only do what is best available to me at the moment, which is not much to be very honest, it's not much. I can, at best, only try to help families reduce their load of running around looking for resources."

Sweta Dash. Twenty-eight years old. An independent journalist in India.

And as India rapidly spirals, breaking worldwide records for coronavirus infections, hospitals turning people away, supplies running low - Dash and other volunteers have become unlikely heroes in an unlikely place: Twitter.

Indians are increasingly turning to Twitter out of desperation, asking for people to help them find hospital beds for loved ones, oxygen canisters, etcetera.

Dash does what she can.

"It feels very overwhelming and it feels very absurd. Because to be very honest, the crisis is huge. And no one on the internet, at least I can speak for myself, is equipped to deal with such a crisis. It's not simply a medical crisis at this point, it's also an emotional crisis."

"Because you know, when I receive a request from a patient's family, somebody in distress crying that 'Hey, can you please help me with finding leads for a hospital or oxygen' or something, and that person is crying, I'm not equipped to deal with that. Individual citizens are not equipped to deal with this crisis of heartache and loss and mourning and grief."

She isn't alone. In fact, there's one volunteer group - called the Medical Support Group - which boasts about 350 members, using hashtags like #COVIDSOS and spreadsheets to track resources.

Results for these efforts are mixed.

One success: A patient in Delhi who found a hospital bed and was showing signs of recovery, because of the group.

Sometimes help arrives in smaller gestures as well, such as home-cooked meals for patients quarantining at home, or just taking care of people's pets.

Why Twitter? WhatsApp and Facebook are more popular in India, but it's easier to get the word out on Twitter because it's more public-facing, and the retweet function can quickly amplify a person's message.

It can also turn into a flood though.

Enter Umang Galaiya, 25 years old, a worker at a tech startup.

He's made a website called "covid19-twitter.in" that helps sort it all.

"Twitter, specifically, if you pick any, if you pick 100 posts from my feed, at least 95 of them will be about people looking for resources or people sharing resources. And these resources include ICU beds, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, contacts of people that could provide them and things like that."

"So it's kind of difficult for, for an average user to use Twitter's advanced search for something like this. Well, they have to figure out all the keywords that they might need."

"They can just select things and then it forms a search query for them."

The word crisis is used to describe a lot of countries during the pandemic, but India is one of the worst.

As Dash said earlier, volunteers like she and Galaiya are doing their best.