Volunteering With RAM, by Dan D. in Arizona

A Brief Introduction

In 1994 I picked up a copy of Wired magazine and there was a full-page image of Marc Thorpe showing a radio-controlled tank with a chainsaw mounted to the top. It was an advertisement for the first Robot Wars event (which then became the BattleBots television show that you are likely familiar with). I thought “I was made for this!” and then went on to compete and win a number of trophies. Not bad for a software engineer.

Last year, I was browsing DVDs at a thrift shop in town and stumbled across a Remote Area Medical (RAM) documentary. The one that I was bought was produced in 2013. After spending a dollar and then 90 minutes of my time, after 27 years I once again thought “I was made for this!” Here is my story of turning that desire into action.

Belmont, Nevada

There is a hunting camp I like to visit every few years. It is very remote.

There is no cell service so it forces me to a) read b) listen to podcasts and c) tune stations in on the CountyComm GP-7 radio over AM and shortwave. I have found that if I string out the 1/4-wave antenna I can listen to stations from the east coast. Which again proved itself as I was listening to an old sermon by Dr. Gene Scott on WWZR out of GA at 5935 kHz. In it, he admonished his church members to do more than just show up on Sunday but get active in their communities for the things of God.*

Tonopah, Nevada

I broke camp and rolled into town for breakfast. I was too late for the eggs and pancake places and too early for lunch so I had to cool my jets for a bit. After some good barbeque, I was back on the road to home. Flipping through FM stations I landed on “Pahrump’s only Country Music station” and learned there was a RAM event this weekend at the vocational school in town so “y’all come down.” I turned off my radio to call my wife. “You’re not going to believe this, there is a RAM event in Pahrump! I want to go volunteer.” She replied: “You go do that!” After I hung up and changed my course I turned the radio back on. All that I heard was static.* I was in a dead spot for reception and never again was able to tune in that station.

Pahrump, Nevada

I rolled in to the event site at a school. It was largely unremarkable other than the RAM 18-wheeler parked to the side and portable generators scattered around the periphery.

It was 2 PM and there were a bunch of people wearing scrubs and having lunch outside. With surgical masks pulled down to their chins. I walked up and asked where volunteer check-in was located. “Through there (pointing to the doors) but you need to wear a mask to enter the building.” Since I know of the medical futility and governmental control aspect to masking for the scamdemic I replied “Well, that’s a non-starter for me.” So I turned around with a huff and got in my Jeep to leave.

I got onto the street and my brain prodded me*: “Your skills are for outside. No mask required.” So I turned around and parked next to one of the generators, since I knew there would be an ajar door to feed the power cables inside. As the fictional James T. Kirk once said in a Star Trek movie “Learn how things work.”

At the volunteer check-in desk, maskless, I introduced myself and offered to help with site security. “I have five years of service in church security and am trained in verbal de-escalation techniques along with proportional escalation if necessary. And I have all my own gear.” The co-sponsor of the event put her hand on my chest and said “You are an answer to prayer.”

I reported to the outdoor lead and was told to show up for my shift: 8 PM to 10 AM. I’ve done these long efforts before so I hit Wal-Mart for spare socks, Gold Bond powder to stave off inchiness and some 5-Hour Energy and Kind bars to get through until sunrise.

Friday Night

The purpose of RAM is to bring free medical care to people who cannot afford it. It requires medical professionals to volunteer to serve a community in which there is need. Which is, practically, every community. The focus has evolved into these major areas:

  • Dentistry
  • Optometry
  • General health
  • Mental well-being

The gates open for patient check-in and enqueueing at midnight with the services beginning at 6 AM. The cars outside the gate had already started to line up when I arrived at 8 PM and they were 32 deep when we opened the gate. Check-in is merely a procedure to obtain the name and the need from the patient and get their vehicle lined up. Nothing more. It is to help manage the limited resources in the time allotted.

As I set upon this my heart very quickly turned from a somewhat procedural tone to a very empathetic one. How many of us have ever waited four hours to meet a total stranger and explain that “No I don’t do meth, my teeth are just bad and I need a bunch of them pulled out.”? Not I. But all night until the sun came up, I was that stranger and one of their first points of contact.

I started to get to know people by name and learned about their lives. I have a friend in Alberta Canada who had most of her backyard garden wiped out by a freak hailstorm. She was growing food to feed her family. When I listened to, smiled at and laughed with these people I thought to myself “The right type of hailstorm in my life would put me in the same situation.” But it hasn’t yet so I was at bat to serve using my willingness and talents.

By the time I left at 10 AM on Saturday the medical providers had seen 233 patients and extended the equivalent of over $101,000 in services. On my way out to get a shower and some sleep before I headed home I encountered the same co-organizer. “You were great. I hope you’re coming back tonight for day two.” I hadn’t really thought of that. So I walked off to the side and phoned my wife again. “They found me to be an asset and asked me to work tonight as well.” “What do you think?” “I think that I’m here, it’s working out and I should to do it. I want to.” “I knew you would, Dan. I know your heart.”* So I said yes.

Saturday Night

I returned again at 8 PM. The line of cars was shorter but some I recognized. As part of fairness and helping as many people as possible, the patients on the previous night were given a choice between vision and dental service but not both. So, many returned the second night to receive treatment in the other specialty according to their need.

There were 20 bays set up in the gym of the school for dentistry.

And lines of instruments, sutures, numbing agents, and even four autoclaves to reprocess the instruments. All of the dentistry was supervised and my impression is that it was the highest need provided for.

It was 3:30 AM and I took the time to snap some photos and also pray over the areas to ask God if He would make the decisions and skill of the doctors excellent and the outcomes of the patients a success. I saw a lot of smiling faces returning to their cars, many revealing mouths full of gauze.


The check-in process was a bit different for the second crowd as many had arrived via word of mouth instead of the formal announcements heard on the radio and read on Facebook. It didn’t seem as busy but by the time I left at noon on Sunday the numbers were higher: a total of 394 patients and $172,000 in services provided during the weekend.


I also learned that the fancy 18-wheeler had inside of it some machines that would grind custom lenses for patients so on Sunday many were returning to get their new glasses. For free. I was just a sliver of the team pulling all-nighters. I also learned there was a notable uptick in the number of people looking for mental well-being which is clearly an outcome of the sociopathic fear that our governments put into people over the past two years, the conflict in Ukraine, and of course the rising cost of food, fuel, and rent.

Driving Home

I had quite a lot to reflect upon. Being an introvert the constant interaction with people really took a lot out of me. Those two days of prior camping pre-charged me. But I also considered the brief glimpse into people’s lives that I had been given. Nobody arrived to spread joy, in fact it was the opposite – they arrived because they had a painful need of some sort which they sought help with. I had the juice to pitch in on the team.


I would encourage you, if you can still fog a mirror, to volunteer for a RAM event. You’ll likely have to cover transportation and lodging for yourself so here are some funding ideas:

  • Cancel Netflix/Disney+/Amazon Prime (they are all evil corporations anyway)
  • Give up Starbuck’s coffee for six months
  • Give up drinking any alcoholic beverages for six months

Budget for it now.

You can sign up to volunteer.

Is it hard work? Yes, if you do it correctly but it is rewarding to have God come alongside you and help out. And the RAM people are really great; I have volunteered to teach Sunday school, drill water wells in Honduras and serve on a medical mission to Haiti. But there is nothing quite like service to your fellow American when they need it. So, go! And never forget the mission.

All comments will be replied to: JustExecute@proton.me

Footnote: * The asterisks throughout this recount detail the instances of when God operated, without question, in these two days of my life. The most impactful thing you can ever say in prayer is like the young prophet Samuel did: “Lord, here am I.” Buckle up.