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Security forces training to keep Andersen’s roads safe

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jacob Skovo
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
As the number of days since the last alcohol related incident here continues to grow, so does pride on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. This pride is backed by knowing that security forces members on Andersen AFB, are trained to effectively identify individuals who are driving while intoxicated.

During January, Airmen from the 36th and 736th Security Forces Squadrons participated in DUI enforcement training.

The 23-hour course, which was designed by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, aims to boost the 36th and 736th SFS ability to detect and deter impaired driving.

“This training provides Airmen with an accurate and practical demonstration allowing them to look at an intoxicated individual and see how that person performs during the tests,” said instructor Tech. Sgt. Joe Teresi, 36th SFS flight chief.

During the training, the Airmen were taught how to conduct the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which looks for an involuntary twitch of the eyes when tracking an object’s motion.

Additionally, they learn to apply the walk and turn and one-leg stand tests. These challenge an individual's short-term memory, balance and motor skills, which are needed for safe operation of a vehicle.

With each test, the Airmen are taught to screen for any potential injuries or disabilities that would void the results of the test or cause further injury.

To provide the most realistic training environment, 10 Airmen volunteered to become intoxicated in a controlled environment. After checking the ages of the volunteers and giving a safety briefing on the procedures, exercise leaders began to document their intake and regularly measured the blood alcohol content of each volunteer to ensure they were kept at safe levels. All volunteers were escorted by wingmen at the end of the training.

The different metabolisms of the volunteers challenged the Airmen to pay close attention to minute details while testing.

“The higher the blood alcohol content is, the easier it is to distinguish sober from intoxicated,” said instructor Staff Sgt. Andrew Loren, 36th SFS flight chief. “We try to get the Airmen to recognize the slightest clues.”

Having knowledge and experience working with intoxicated individuals prepares officers to make arrests by making them more reliable.

“If an individual decides to fight a DUI charge, it can go to court and the arresting officer needs to be able to articulate why they made that judgment call including what clues they saw,” Loren said.

Gaining these skills is also important for 736th SFS members, who primarily work toward air base defense and contingency response, because they may use them in their future assignments.

“Their next assignment may be the 36th SFS or another law enforcement unit,” Teresi said. “We are preparing them to be mission effective as soon as they get there.”

The curriculum is established by NHTSA and covers not only how to execute the tests efficiently, but why alcohol makes people behave the way they do and a brief overview of how their new skills may be applied to narcotics.

Training such as this is not available in all security forces units across the Air Force and the presence of Airmen with these skills on Andersen AFB increases the readiness of the 36th and 736th SFS to deter impaired driving and support the 36th Wing’s mission.

“We are very privileged to be able to bring in something that they do at the state level to a small unit such as this,” Teresi said.

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