By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Indra Bosko, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs
June 28, 2010 - NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The annual "Save a Life Tour" visited amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) June 22. to highlight the dangers of drinking and driving.
Kearsarge's hangar bay was staged with campaign slogans, videos, posters, an electronic alcohol survey and several drunk driving simulators.
"We had a lot of participation from the Kearsarge crew," said Save a Life tour manager Andrew Tipton. "I've seen more chiefs, senior chiefs and master chiefs using the simulator than at any other stop on the tour. I truly believe that if the leaders do it, the younger Sailors will follow."
According to Tipton, the "edutainment" simulators recreate the same conditions one would face while driving impaired. Sailors face unexpected conditions, such as reckless driving from other vehicles and harsh weather conditions, while feeling like they were driving in a state of intoxication.
"A lot of people don't think that anything bad can happen to them after a few drinks, but it can and it will," said Tipton, a former victim of a near death alcohol-related car crash. "What we do is we program a delayed reaction in the simulators, because everyone who drinks has a delayed reaction. We slow the response when the driver hits the gas pedal to show how the brain can handle the delay. If they can't handle the car sober, how can they handle the car drunk?"
"It's like I was drunk the moment I started," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Peaches Miles, Training department. "I kept losing control of the steering wheel. It is a scary feeling overall. I never want to have that feeling ever again. I don't drink and drive, but even so I believe experiencing the effects of alcohol on driving firsthand helps our Sailors. I have better things to do than die or get locked up."
Tipton said there are total of three Save A Life trucks that tour across the country, and naval bases are some of the mandatory visits.
"A majority of the people that enlist in the military are very young. We are trying to show them to be smart about their decisions," said Tipton. "At the end of the day, we are just trying to save a life."
Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Thomas Williford is Kearsarge's Drug and Alcohol Program advisor. He said that in most cases the abuse of alcohol begins before Sailors join the Navy.
"Most of the Sailors I've screened for alcohol-related problems on Kearsarge said they began drinking at 14 years old," said Williford, stressing that responsible use of alcohol is the Navy's policy. "My job is prevention, training, and treatment of alcohol related incidents, but I can't help someone if they don't come see me with the mindset of wanting to be helped. The best advice I can give Sailors is don't put yourself in a situation that you will regret because the Navy will hold you accountable."