by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/8/2015 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The procedures for Airmen Against Drunk Driving program here will change April 30.
The goal of the anti-drunk driving coalition council's reforms of
installing a 24/7 automated phoneline and switching to volunteers using
their own personal vehicles from their homes aims to streamline the
effectiveness of the program while focusing on its main objectives:
saving lives and empowering Airmen.
"These reforms will ensure equal access to our services, our volunteer
base stays universal and AADD remains a program run by all Airmen for
all Airmen," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden, AADD
president. "As always, the responsibility remains on all Airmen, not
just our volunteers, to make plans, prepare for contingencies and
educate themselves about the ill-effects of drinking and driving."
The Old System
The program operates Saturdays and Sundays from midnight to 6 a.m. and
will continue to be run during those times. The current program utilizes
volunteer drivers who report to a staging area in the 52nd Logistics
Readiness Squadron dormitory.
There, they and a phone-call dispatcher await calls from anyone who may
need their services. Once a call has come through, two drivers will both
depart in the program's only vehicle, which is sponsored by a local car
Their objective is to collect the inebriated Airman and get them and
their car back to their home. AADD drivers do this by having one driver
operate the Airman's vehicle, and the other AADD driver follows the car
with the dealership vehicle.
Current program rules barred non-AADD volunteers to ride in the vehicle, limiting AADD to callers with cars.
"If the Airman didn't have a car, we'd basically tell him to find
another way home," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Shawnte Gholson,
AADD's outreach liaison. "The Airman's Creed says 'I will never leave an
Airman behind,' but to these people, that's what we were doing."
With the transfer complete, the two volunteers can then either drive
back to the 52nd LRS staging area or drive to pick up another Airman
until their shift ends.
Using a single provided vehicle limited volunteers to just two. The
council raised the cap to four, yet two drivers would remain idle while
waiting for the car to return to base.
A single car for multiple calls also added to response times, leaving
callers to wait an average of more than one hour until drivers could
reach them. With multiple calls during that same window, times
compounded, even running outside the program's hours of operation.
"We were in this strange situation of not only telling carless Airmen to
call or pay someone else but we were turning away more volunteers than
we could accept," McFadden said. "If Airmen want to volunteer, we ought
to help them do that. And if Airmen need help, we should link them with
those willing to do so."
The council recognized further issues beyond the moment the callers
returned home. They offered surveys to the callers and found that
two-thirds of those polled said they both planned on drinking before
heading out and using AADD services that night.
Furthermore, McFadden said that two-thirds of the program's 266 trips in
2014 included more than one passenger and one third of the total had
more than three people.
Each of those additional passengers represented a potential designated driver, he added.
"Of course we recognize Airmen calling AADD as a net positive for the
community and encourage them to use us when needed," McFadden said.
"However, these trends represent an opportunity for us to do better at
communicating AADD as a last resort. We do our fellow Airmen a greater
service by not enabling them to continue making the same choices but by
empowering them with more options promoting responsibility and
For those reasons, the AADD council enacted these reforms not only to
address program effectiveness but tackle unintended effects it had on
the base's culture.
"This reform is not an experiment -- this is about cultural change," he
said. "Under the old program, we sent an unintentional message that
Airmen with cars didn't need a designated driver or another plan: AADD
would bring them and their car home for free, and we'd do it again the
next week. Those days are over, and we're not going back."
The New System
AADD volunteers will no longer drive a single provided vehicle. McFadden
stressed that this decision came from the AADD council and not
reflective of the dealership or caused by any outside factors.
Instead, volunteers will use their own vehicles to transport callers
back to their home locations, similar to how AADD runs at most Air Force
installations. Getting a caller's personal vehicle back is not AADD's
responsibility, and Airmen should adjust accordingly before heading out.
Drivers and callers will be separated by gender, ensuring females will
only be picked up by females and males will pick up males. Exceptions
may be made for groups of mixed genders as appropriate.
Volunteers will no longer be required to report to a staging area on
base. They can operate from home and answer calls as needed. On-call
dispatchers will also receive AADD requests from their homes and will
select drivers nearest to a caller's location to return them.
"If a caller is in Speicher and needs a ride back to Bitburg, we can
summon from our volunteer pool a driver from one of those two areas to
bring them home," McFadden said. "This will reduce the response times,
efficiently utilize volunteer man hours, conserve fuel, and guarantee no
Airman will be turned away because they didn't have a car."
Airmen without vehicles or USAREUR driver licenses can still volunteer
for AADD as a phone dispatcher. They can also serve as designated
drivers for their friends.
"We're not turning into a 'taxi service,'" Gholson added, "We're helping our fellow Airmen in need."
Expanded phone service
The second part of reform will convert the AADD phone number
(06565-61-2233) from a phone manned just 12 hours a week into an
automated service available 24/7.
"We will continue to offer rides home for Airmen so long as volunteers
remain willing to do so," McFadden said. "Should no volunteers be
available, we offer the phoneline and its options as another tool to
During the AADD's operating hours, callers who select AADD support will
be transferred to the base command post who will transfer them to the
on-call dispatcher for pickup.
Should no driver or dispatcher be available, the caller has the option
to be returned to the main AADD phone line for additional services or be
connected through the command post to their respective first sergeant
or recall roster.
Those who call outside of AADD's hours can be connected to the command
post as well as local cab agencies, Ride for Life, the Sexual Assault
Response Coordinator, medical emergencies, security forces, the airman
and family readiness center, the chapel and the National Suicide
McFadden said the inclusion of these agencies into the AADD phone number
offers a safety net should its services be unavailable, guaranteeing
Airmen access to support should they elect to use them.
The ultimate success of the reform, as well as the continuing program, depends on the contributions of all of Saber Nation.
"The first 'A' in AADD is for 'Airmen,' and that is not exclusive to our
volunteers or just junior enlisted," McFadden said. "It includes our
passengers and even those who may never use or volunteer for AADD in
their careers. This fact is at the heart of our reform plan, represents a
value we are committed to upholding and a better future we are
committed to forging today."
For more information about AADD, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in need of AADD services, call 06565-61-2233.
"We're all out there trying to change the culture of drinking and
driving," Gholson said. "Never forget: drinking and driving is never OK.
It's not good, and it's not safe."