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Airmen against Drunk Driving: Making a Good Program Better

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- You've heard it countless times from supervisors, commanders and peers, "If you plan to drink, have a plan to get home safely. If your plan falls through, call Airmen against Drunk Driving."

Sounds simple, but there's a lot that goes into making sure that can happen. AADD has been available everyday from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. What you may not know is that a volunteer operator receives your call on a cell phone (247-9999) then calls a volunteer driver who, in turn, picks up the Airman or Airmen needing a ride. As the president of AADD, I can tell you that we have indeed provided safe rides home for 42 of our fellow Airmen during 2007, but I'd be remiss if I didn't admit there are areas for improvement.

First is the scope of the program itself. By being available from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. everyday, we commit ourselves to a more than 15,000 volunteer-hour effort. Meanwhile, according to data we have collected tells us we'd best serve our fellow Airmen if we concentrated our efforts on weekends and holidays.

The second issue of concern has been several dropped or missed calls. Since AADD uses a cell phone, the quality of reception varies depending on its location. Sometimes the issue isn't a dropped or missed call, but rather the clarity of the call. It has proven difficult to accurately communicate important information such as where somebody needs to be picked up.

We have also noticed that a lot of would-be "saves" simply give up because of the time it takes to be picked up by a driver. Some of these people call us to say they found a quicker ride, took a cab or called a friend. Some haven't called back, and I'm hopeful they didn't opt to drive home.

Finally, we've admittedly had instances where somebody forgot they volunteered. Fortunately we've never lost a "save" because of it, but I want to fix it before we do.

How do we make the program better? I'm glad you asked. We've had a lot of people put a lot of effort into that very question.

As of 4 a.m. Jan. 3, AADD will stand down its 365-day commitment and move to a more effective weekend and holiday schedule. At 9:45 p.m. Jan. 4, AADD volunteers began meeting at the Airman's Lounge, formerly known as the Cyber Café. This single measure will ensure accountability of our personnel, streamline communication flow and improve response time. Very soon we will no longer need our cell phone since we will be using a landline with the same 247-9999 number. This will not only reduce communication difficulties, but it also saves AADD over $500 annually!

Sounds great, but how can I help? Why, thanks for asking; I've got several ideas!

First, continue to make responsible choices. If you're going to drink, make sure you have a plan to get home safely. If you're going to have a party, make sure your guests have a plan to get home safely or have a place for them to crash for the night. Supervisors, commanders, Wingmen: continue to foster a culture of responsible choices.

If you do that and you are still looking for a way to be more actively involved. Here are some ways you can do just that. We will be looking for four to six people every weekend night to volunteer to answer phones and drive people home. Although some bases rotate this schedule around through the squadrons, we're going to try keeping it volunteer based. That said, we'll need active participation from everybody. In addition to these volunteer opportunities, there is always a need for dedicated people to help with fundraising, organization or other activities. If you feel so inclined, please email me at marc.maschhoff@fairchild.af.mil.

I look forward to working with you!