572-RIDE prevents DWI, saves lives

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
You drink, you drive, you lose. That's the New Mexico Department of Transportation's slogan, and is also preached to all Holloman personnel. The state of New Mexico has imposed severe penalties for those who are caught driving while intoxicated, and the Air Force has done the same.

According to the NMDOT website, penalties for a first DWI offense include up to one year license revocation; up to 90 days in jail; DWI school; mandatory community service and an ignition interlock system installed for one year.

The military-imposed penalties can also have steep, career-altering consequences.

"For Holloman's first-time offenders, penalties can range from receiving a letter of reprimand and an unfavorable information file to an administrative discharge," said Capt. John Sokohl, 49th Wing Judge Advocate representative. "Typically, first-time offenders receive an administrative demotion, so they lose a stripe,"

To discourage Holloman community members from driving drunk, the 572-RIDE Program was set-up for Team Holloman members as a back-up plan, instead of getting behind the wheel after having an alcoholic beverage.

"If someone needs a ride after drinking and their plan falls through, they can call 572-RIDE [7433]," said Senior Master Sgt. Sonia Kilgore, 572-RIDE Program coordinator. "The base operator will answer and get some information. How many males or females there are, where the pick-up is and where the drop off is. The operator will then call a volunteer to connect the rider to the volunteer."

The operators play a vital role in the program, explained Sergeant Kilgore.

Not only do they connect the riders to their volunteers, they do an outstanding job tracking and calling the volunteers, she said. They also update the database's statistics, like how many times a volunteer has been called, how many times a volunteer accepts the call and how many lives were saved. One of the biggest things they deal with, she added, is taking the calls from the under-the influence callers.

Although the operators play a key role in the program, it's the combined efforts of the volunteers and operators, working cohesively, that sustains the program's success.

"They have dedicated many hours to saving lives and to being true wingmen," Sergeant Kilgore said. "The combined efforts of 145 volunteers saved the lives of 395 individuals and impacted many more in 2010. I cannot say enough how important each and every one of our operators and volunteers are to the program. Without our teamwork, this program would not be this successful."

Although successful, the program can be difficult at times explained Tech Sgt. William Davidson, 572-RIDE Program coordinator and the top male volunteer of 2010.

"It gets tough sometimes because you receive calls at the most inconvenient times, but you have to do it because it's all about helping the other person," he said. "We signed up for this knowing what it could be like, but in the end you feel good knowing you helped out someone in need."

Anyone interested in volunteering for 572-RIDE should contact their first sergeant, Sergeant Kilgore or Sergeant Davidson at 575-572-5512 or 5275.

The top volunteer for the month with the most saves receives a certificate, which can be traded in for a free oil change.

The local community is reminded that 572-RIDE services are intended for use by only Holloman's military ID card holders within the local community -- not Las Cruces, El Paso, Cloudcroft or Tularosa.