Rescue wing kicks off traffic safety program to reduce number of teen driving deaths

  • Published
  • By Lt. Cathleen Snow
  • 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
In more ways than one, the Air Force Reserve’s 920th Rescue Wing is living up to its motto, “that others may live.” This past year, in addition to rescuing more than 1,000 Hurricane Katrina victims, rescue wing members have initiated a traffic safety program to help save lives.

Operation NOW (not on our watch) will kick off April 11 – 13 to reduce the number of teen auto accidents in the area. Last year Brevard County lost eight teenagers due to auto accidents.

It’s designed as a three-hour, in-your-face program on the tragic results of careless driving, it depicts, in a visually graphic nature, the consequences of careless driving.

“During this 3-day program we will host 7,000 Brevard County high school seniors. They will experience an emotionally filled day with real-life re-enactments geared toward traffic safety,” said Senior Master Sgt. Rene Rubiella, Operation NOW program director and father of one of the eight. On April 9, 2005 his only daughter, Allie was killed in a cross over collision with another vehicle.

“Everyday I relive the moment I had to say good-bye to my daughter, something no parent should have to go through,” said Rubiella.

This life saving program is designed for the student and addresses matters that will impact their future driving experiences.

“The program I put together keeps the student’s attention and the content empowers them with a new respect for traffic safety,” said Rubiella.

Exhibits will include motivational media and a reenacted 911 call after an auto accident, complete with two unveiled wrecked cars and live actors portraying the victims, for effect.

“My faith and belief has kept me going and it is in keeping with this belief that I have turned what was a devastating event into a hope filled, life-changing experience for teen drivers in Brevard County,” said Rubiella.

Col. Timothy E. Tarchick, 920th RQW Wing Commander, initiated the program after he returned from a trip to Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, NY where he observed a regional traffic safety program they put on and decided to adopt it at his wing

“This ever increasing number of community partnerships and participating schools and the expansion of community involvement is a fine testimony to the success of this unique safety event that we will host here at the base,” said Colonel Tarchick.

“The timing of this program is critical. As the school year comes to an end, students want to reflect on and celebrate their accomplishments. This program is intended to raise their level of awareness while on the roadway. The students will leave the program with the experience of learning about traffic safety issues that affect them most directly in their daily lives,” said Rubiella.

“If next year, no students die due to auto accidents, we have succeeded,” said Rubiella.

Mission Statement

OPERATION NOW (NOT on OUR WATCH) is a teen driver safety program designed to better prepare the young drivers of Brevard County, Fla. This program will make new drivers aware of the dangers of distracted driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the proper use of cellular phones, the importance of seatbelts, and many other life saving topics. The program is being hosted by the Air Force Reserve’s 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base. It is a joint effort among numerous organizations throughout Brevard County, all of which play a vital role in the success of this life saving program. Our goal is to reach all of Brevard County high school seniors with this life saving information.