Archive for October, 2010

It is time again for Halloween, a holiday filled with costumes, candy and fun for kids of all ages. It is also a deadly time of year, as more kids fill the streets to trick or treat and more adults head home from parties after having too much to drink. It is all of our jobs to make sure our kids are safe out there and this Halloween is fun and not frightening.

As a motorist it is important to always have a designated driver if you plan to drink at your festivities. When out of the road always makes sure to stay alert, kids are excited and don’t pay attention to where they are going. Watch for kids not just at intersections, but also coming out from between parked cars. Make sure you slow down and be patient, kids are in costumes that can often impair their ability to move quickly or see clearly. Kids in costumes

Parents can help to ensure the safety of their children as well. First, talk to your kids about Halloween safety and make sure they are supervised while trick or treating. Second, make sure that their costumes are reflective, don’t impair vision and don’t cause them to trip and/or fall. Also, improve their visibility by having them trick or treat with glow sticks or flashlights, helping cars to see them from a further distance.

Kids can also make sure they are safe on Halloween by making sure they always stay with the adult leading the group. And when crossing the street, look both ways and use the crosswalks.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for kids all across the country, let’s make sure they make it home safely to enjoy all of their treats. Have a happy and safe Halloween!

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We here at MADD Nebraska take pride in having some of the most incredible volunteers around! All of them are dedicated, passionate individuals who have made our mission their own. Now we are looking to add a more great people to our team!

There are so many ways to get involved with the MADD volunteer program. Whether you love to do office work, speak to kids, or have a great interest in the legal system, we have position that is right for you. A volunteer job should allow you to use your strengths to make a difference for an organziation that you are passionate about. It is always our goal that our voulnteers feel their position both satisfies and challenges them. And there is always room for growth, we will always work with you to allow you to try new positions or to give input into how to make what you are doing even better!

Right now is an especially exciting time to get involved with MADD Nebraska as our Court Monitoring program is expanding! This means there are even more opportunities for volunteer court monitors to help us track the adjudication of DUI cases in courtrooms across the state. Allowing people all across the state to make a difference in their own community.raised hands

If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity for MADD Nebraska, all you have to do is contact us! Call the state office at (402) 434-5330 or email our Volunteer Coordinator at sara.magnus@madd.org to get an application.

We would not be able to continue our fight against drunk driving without the amazing support of our volunteers. They have dedicated themselves to making a difference and they are doing just that every day! They continue to inspire us with their heart and willingness to give so much of themselves to benefit so many others! All we as staff can do is say thank you and let everyone know our volunteers are the force that drives us to continue our work in the hope that together we can eliminate drunk driving.

The other day one of the MADD past state chairs, for Nebraska, came into the state office to see us.  One would think it was a routine visit to catch up on what is new, taking information about MADD and our mission to the schools (as she has for the last five years in October) or even to see if we needed assistance with any upcoming events.

This visit was NOT routine. Kay was instrumental in helping me understand accounting as I became the executive director of MADD in 2000. Kay then offered her leadership as treasurer and state chair. She was nothing short of inspiring!  For one, she was interested in MADD and she had not been victimized by the crime. She sincerely wanted to be a part of an organization that was meaningful and she strived to ensure the safety of our communities as a MADD volunteer for more than decade.

This day Kay’s visit was different.  She did pick up materials for the middle school to deliver our message to youth about underage drinking prevention, not to ride with a drinking driver and to always wear a seatbelt.

However, her status had changed – Kay too was now a victim of this 100% preventable crime.  Her nephew had been injured and his wife killed in a recent alcohol-related motor vehicle crash in Omaha.

Although she stood strong, I could see the pain etched into her face. I have seen this in so many faces of families MADD has supported during a sudden loss or injury caused by drunk driving.  A crime in so many ways!

Drunk driving knows no boundaries and certainly does not discriminate.  It can knock on our door any time and any day of the year.  Our hearts go out to Kay and her family as they begin a “new normal” for what they knew prior to the crash has been forever erased – a pain that cannot be mended and a loss that will never leave their hearts.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by drunk driving always know MADD is here to support you “We help Survivors Survive” 1-877-623-3435 or contact MADD at www.maddnebraska.org

Here at MADD we do not use the word accident when referring to a drunk driving case and/or incident.  Using the word accident minimizes the impact of the crime committed by the drunk driver in our community.

An “accident” happens by chance.  An “accident” is not anyone’s fault.  Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines “accident” as an event occurring by chance or arising from unknown causes;lack of intention or necessity.

Drunk driving is a deliberate act by a person who makes the deliberate decision to threaten the lives of other people.  Impaired drivers make two clear choices: 1) to use alcohol and/or other drugs and 2) to drive.  The tragedy therefore, could have been prevented. It is a 100% preventable crime.

When a person is involved in an alcohol-related motor vehicle incident, MADD uses the words “crash”, “wreck”, or “crime” to describe the consequences of drunk driving crash. 

MADD would encourage everyone to be mindful of the fact that drunk driving is NO accident – drunk driving is a crime.  Our community safety depends on our shifting attitudes about drunk driving – remember drunk driving is a choice and those that make a choice to drive drunk do so with intent.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by drunk driving  I encourage you to contact MADD 800/444/6233.

We help survivors survive!

Commentary by Lt. Col. Dana C. McCown
Commander, 55th Maintenance Squadron

First Lady Sally Ganem and Lt. Col. McCown

 

9/29/2010 – OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb.  — Did you know that drunken driving now accounts for 32% of all traffic fatalities? In our Air Force, drunk driving and its ramifications are directly tied to our mission readiness, so it’s a critical time for us to change our drinking culture!

Nationally, one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. Every minute, one person is injured from an alcohol-related crash. This year, an estimated 11,773 people will die in drunken-driving crashes – one sister, brother, mom, or dad every 45 minutes. This is not a “statistic,” these are human lives lost with countless other lives turned upside down.

Trust me; I know because in 2007 the state of Florida experienced 3,214 fatalities and my parents were two of them. They were killed by a three – time DUI offender with no driver’s license and no car insurance.

At Offutt, we’ve experienced 94 DUIs the past 2.5 years…that’s 94 Airmen (with a big “A” to include civilians) who most likely can’t deploy or aren’t fully mission capable to perform their primary duties. That means the rest of us have to work harder than we already do to bridge the gap.

The 55th Wing commander commissioned a “DUI Task Force” in an effort to start “changing the culture” on the acceptability of irresponsible drinking and drinking and driving. I know statistics can speak for themselves, but let me show you where we’ve morphed as a state and a nation the past several years.

For Nebraska:

· In 1997 there were 2,097 alcohol related crashes. In 2009 that number decreased by 17% to 1,746. But at Offutt, we’re on pace for 32 DUIs for 2010, with nine of those in the last three months. This is despite Brig. Gen. Shanahan, 55th Wing commander, instituting a “20-12” goal- no more than 20 DUIs over 12 months. Also remember, his “commander’s intent” is one DUI is too many!

· In 1996 there were 12,763 arrests and 6,295 convictions for drunken driving. In 2009, those numbers went up to 13,399 arrests and 11,520 convictions.

Nation – wide:

· The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages states to enact “enhance” sanctions for drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 grams per deciliter or greater.

The rationale for high-BAC sanctioning systems is that drivers with a BAC .15 or greater is at least 20 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sober driver. During an average weekend night, about one percent of drivers have BACs of .15 or greater and about two-thirds of fatally injured drunk drivers have BACs of .15 or greater.

Want to hear something scary? Over the past two and a half years, Offutt’s average BAC is greater than .15…yes, our 94 DUI offenders, on average, were at least 20 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sober driver.

We all know a culture takes time to change …but when a company, or in our case Offutt, morphs it shared attitudes, values, goals and practices and everyone realizes that when you drink and drive, everyone loses, then we can turn our negative trend into something positive!

For example, back in 1980 there were 22,000 drunken driving fatalities nation – wide and in 2009, our nation reduced those fatalities by almost half.

As General Shanahan has said, “drinking and driving and irresponsible drinking kills careers…if you’re lucky. Rolling the dice when it comes to mission readiness is not how we prepare for our peacetime and wartime missions.”

The bottom line is that we have taken a moral oath to protect and defend the citizens of this great nation, and our local community, and every time we get behind the wheel of a vehicle impaired we put those same citizens into harm’s way and break the trust with those we’ve vowed to protect.

First Lady Sally Ganem and Lt. Col. McCown