American air base safe travel scheme

AMERICAN air chiefs in Suffolk have launched a new card scheme for base personnel to help them get home safely.

Will Clarke

AMERICAN air chiefs in Suffolk have launched a new card scheme for base personnel to help them get home safely.

With hundreds of young men and women under their command at RAF Lakenheath, commanders take safety off base very seriously.

Airmen at the major base now have a new “Wingman” cards to carry in their wallets, which have more information and options for a safe trip home.

The new card replaces previous safety initiatives including the Taxi Chip program and promises to further reduce drink driving and encourage more people to take care of each other.

Master Sgt Debra Downey said: “These cards have more information. Instead of only have one person's name on the card, they now have the supervisor, first sergeant and commander listed.”

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The cards mean more base staff have responsibility for making sure an individual airman makes it home safely and legally she said.

Sgt Downey also developed the new cards to allow airmen to get a taxi home even when they do not have the cash with them.

“The Phoenix Taxi company has partnered with us to participate in this program,” she added.

“The driver will take all the airman's information from their ID card and the airman has three days to pay for the cab fare.

“This is part of a whole anti-drink driving and binge drinking campaign. I think it will really help to knock down alcohol-related incidents.”

If an airman does not pay three days after using the service their details are handed over to the base legal office. They are then given one more opportunity to pay before it becomes a financial irresponsibility issue and it is sent to their commander.

RAF Lakenheath, which is home to the US Air Force's 48th fighter wing, employs 700 active-duty military personnel as well as 2,000 British and US civilian staff.

In addition to supporting three squadrons of F-15E Strike Eagle and F-15C Eagle fighter aircraft, the base is also home to the 56th rescue squadron's combat search and rescue helicopters.

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