AADD volunteers provide safe alternative to drinking and driving

  • Published
  • By Holly L. Birchfield
  • 78th ABW/PA
Staff Sgt. Justin Cook knows the effect alcohol can have on people. He has seen it firsthand as a volunteer driver with Airmen Against Drunk Driving.

Sergeant Cook, NCO in charge of network administration in the 52nd Combat Communications Squadron, has volunteered for the past few months for the organization that provides rides home to base identification card holders when their designated driver plan falls through during a night on the town.

"Drunk driving is probably one of the biggest career-ending moves you could make in the Air Force," he said. "So anything I can help to do to disable that particular action, I'm very willing to help out with that."

According to the Alcohol Issues Working Group, there have been 27 driving under the influence incidents involving military and civilians from Robins since October 2006.

Robins is working hard to cut that number, and one tool they're using to do that is AADD.

Senior Master Sgt. Clifford Powers, a first sergeant for the 19th Maintenance Squadron and acting liaison and adviser for AADD, said NCOs, commissioned officers and Airmen have volunteered weekly to use their own vehicles and gas to give intoxicated base identification card holders an anonymous, safe ride home since 2005.

"We have a telephone number which is 222-0013 and then calls get forwarded to three other cell phones," he said. "We have three individuals on duty 24/7 who rotate every week and we have both male and female drivers available to pick up people."

While identities are kept confidential, AADD drivers are required to check base ID cards of those given rides and must track locations of pick up so the organization can serve people's needs better.

AADD covers the area of north Macon down to Perry. It's at the driver's discretion whether to pick up people outside of the by AADD drivers, the organization provides intoxicated individuals with local taxi cab information for a safe ride.

According to AADD statistics, the organization's volunteers picked up about 85 people in 2005. In 2006, that number jumped to 531 people. During the first quarter of fiscal 2007, AADD has picked up 254 people.

Sergeant Powers said he expects the number of people being picked up to exceed 1,000 by year's end.

AADD is working with the Airman and Family Readiness Center to implement an Alcohol Responsibility Condition program to measure the amount of alcohol related problems at any given time, Sergeant Powers said.

"Like force protection conditions, when something happens, we're going to have a mechanism in place (where) the entire wing and base gets notified so we can get the information to commanders and the first-line supervisors so they can get eye-to-eye contact with all of their folks and let them know that there's a situation. We'll try to get the word out and talk with them a little bit more," Sergeant Powers said.

He said it's important for people to experience a culture change where people will realize that while drinking isn't a bad thing, drinking and driving don't mix.

The first sergeant said it's all about people taking care of people.

"Taking care of people is our number one (priority)," he said. "People are our number one resource because we can't do anything without them. So if someone gets hurt and can't come to duty because of an alcohol-related incident, then it impacts the entire mission of the United States Air Force."