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TAFB Airmen Against Drunk Driving here to help this holiday season

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 1.5 million people are arrested in a given year for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That means that one out of every 121 licensed drivers were arrested for drunk driving. On November 16, 2018, Staff Sgt. Alexandra Longfellow, 21st Space Wing public affairs photojournalist, was arrested for drunk driving on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. For the past year, she has been working hard to get her life back together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow)

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 1.5 million people are arrested in a given year for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That means that one out of every 121 licensed drivers were arrested for drunk driving. On November 16, 2018, Staff Sgt. Alexandra Longfellow, 21st Space Wing public affairs photojournalist, was arrested for drunk driving on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. For the past year, she has been working hard to get her life back together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The holiday season can be full of good times with good people. There can be joyous events, memorable nights, and also not-so memorable nights.

For such nights, the Airmen Against Drunk Driving team is available to offer assistance and help keep the Tyndall family safe.

“If you decide to go out and have a few drinks, always remember to have a plan, have a back-up plan, and call AADD...if you need a ride,” said Senior Airman James Sears, 325th Contracting Squadron specialist and director of the AADD program. “The hours of operation on the weekends are Friday and Saturday night, (6 p.m. to noon the next day.)”

According to Sears, the program includes the Tyndall Air Force Base area into local Panama City and Panama City Beach’s Front Beach and Middle Beach Road.

“Absolutely anyone can use it,” said Sears. “We put it out there. It’s a completely free service.”

The “We” Sears is referring to is the AADD team of volunteers.

There are three categories individuals can volunteer to be a part of, including alternate dispatcher, consistent driver or weekend driver.

The lead dispatcher is typically the role Sears fills. If he is unavailable or on leave for a particular weekend, he will ask an alternate dispatcher to cover for him.

The next category is the consistent driver.

“The consistent driver is a [static] list that carries over every weekend,” said Sears. “These are the people who are always dependable.”

“And then there’s weekend drivers,” Sears continued. “Anyone can be a weekend driver. Those are the people we call first.”

According to Sears, the intent behind calling weekend drivers first is to maximize their window for opportunity and to refrain from potentially burning out the dispatcher or the consistent drivers.

For anyone looking to utilize the AADD service this holiday season, start by calling the AADD dispatcher at 850-867-0220.

“The process is that [I] would dispatch drivers [giving the driver] contact information such as a phone number and where the (caller is) located,” said Sears. “If anything goes wrong, the dispatcher can help out with pickups.”

The AADD service is completely free and anonymous.

“There’s no reports, no last names,” said Sears. “All we will ask for and keep record of is your first name [and phone number for pickup] in order to ease the fear of retribution.”

Although AADD is free and very user-friendly, there is an expectation that the service should be used as a last resort for if an individual inadvertently drinks, the designated driver drinks, or the “get home safe” plan somehow falls through.

“Please be aware that we do not allow “food runs” or “bar-hopping”, and will provide transportation from the pick-up location to the drop-off location, which includes free rides from your home to establishments and free rides to your car if left behind at establishments.”

The program is meant to mitigate risk management and ensure Airmen have options available. Taxi services and Uber drivers are also available in the local area.

AADD saves a life whenever they pick up an Airman and provides a safe ride home.

“For Airmen who want to use the service, please know that there are absolutely no repercussions,” said Sears.

For more information or to sign up to be a volunteer, contact Sears via email.

“It’s absolutely a great way to volunteer, it’s a great cause, and a great way to get involved,” said Sears.