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Weekend Life Savers

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cammie Quinn
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, Pope Airmen volunteer their time here to ensure other Airmen who have been drinking make it home safely from bars, restaurants and parties.

Airmen Against Drunk Driving is an all volunteer organization which provides free, safe and anonymous rides home to all military personnel as well as Department of Defense civilians. It is an anonymous program encouraging Airmen to make the right decision without fear of retribution. The program is not a taxi service, however and should be used for Airmen whose "Plan A" fell through.

"AADD, when used correctly, is a great program to use if an Airman's plans fall through," said Staff Sgt. Matt Krizmanich, 43rd Airlift Wing Staff Agency. "It helps keep Pope Airman from drinking and driving."

Sergeant Krizmanich has been involved in AADD since 2001 at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. When he learned that Pope also has the program, he began volunteering here. He currently is the president of the program, a position he uses to help Airmen understand the importance of not drinking and driving.

"The best aspect of AADD is the Airman helping each other and being a true wingman, and potentially saving the lives of fellow Airman," said the sergeant.

Total cost of DUIs include the price of the ticket, bail bond, lawyer and court fees, insurance increases, counseling programs and lost wages, adding up anywhere between $5,000 to $20,000. Alcohol related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 35 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes. Three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol related car crash in their life. In total, more than 11,000 people die in alcohol related crashes, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

For service members, DUIs and DWIs can result in loss of rank, mandatory attendance of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment classes and a loss in driving privileges on Pope.

An AADD save, from start to finish, involves a driver picking up an individual and getting them home safely, said Sergeant Krizmanich.

"If a driver goes and picks up 5 people, that's 5 saves because we kept 5 people from getting in their cars and driving after drinking," said Sergeant Krizmanich.

In 2009, more than 260 saves were made for Pope Airmen who made the call. As of May 3, 65 saves have been made.

AADD is about saving lives and changing behavior. AADD gives Airmen an opportunity to make the decision to get home without having to run the risk of driving while intoxicated. First time offenders have an estimated 80 drunk driving incidents prior to being caught for driving under the influence.

The program should be used as a last resort when the original plans fall through. AADD is not designed for a primary plan of attack and prior to drinking, plans should be established to designate a driver who will not be drink and money set aside for a taxi ride home.

The bottom line is don't drink and drive, have a plan and if the plan falls through, call AADD. Program volunteers are on call to provide a ride when needed and can be reached by dialing (910) 394-2233. The program is activated Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights 10 p.m. through 4 a.m.

"AADD is a program that can only run with the support of the base, volunteers are what make this program a success so as long as we keep getting volunteers AADD we be there to support Pope," said Sergeant Krizmanich.

For those interested in volunteering AADD needs drivers, dispatchers and administrative personnel. Drivers should be available between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. and evenings before holidays and down days and receive a $10 gas card to compensate for gas use.

"The cost of gas has been rising and we want to reward the volunteers for their time," said Senior Airman Mackenzie Castaldo, 43rd Medical Group. "It's also an incentive for Airmen to volunteer." Airman Castaldo is treasurer for AADD.

Dispatchers answer the phone when Airmen call needing a ride. The calls are transferred to the dispatcher and can be done from the volunteer's home. Miscellaneous administrative work and special programs are also needed. To volunteer, email or call 394-3223.