Defenders save the day

Senior Airman Carmen Bigas, and Airman 1st Class Samantha Lero, both 45th Security Forces Squadron defenders, saved the day by identifying and responding to a drunk driver during their shift, Dec. 8, 2015, at the Patrick Air Force Base gate, Fla. The duo protected the lives of innocent motorists and the 45th Space Wing Team when a driver, who was later tested and identified with the breath alcohol content of 0.159, attempted to enter the base. December has been designated National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Alicia Premo) (Released)

Senior Airman Carmen Bigas, and Airman 1st Class Samantha Lero, both 45th Security Forces Squadron defenders, saved the day by identifying and responding to a drunk driver during their shift, Dec. 8, 2015, at the Patrick Air Force Base gate, Fla. The duo protected the lives of innocent motorists and the 45th Space Wing Team when a driver, who was later tested and identified with the breath alcohol content of 0.159, attempted to enter the base. December has been designated National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Alicia Premo) (Released)

December is Impaired Driving Awareness Month (U.S. Air Force graphic Air Force Medicine)

December is Impaired Driving Awareness Month (U.S. Air Force graphic Air Force Medicine)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- What should have been a routine start to the work day, turned into a lifesaving event at Patrick Air Force Base's South Gate entrance Dec. 8, 2015. 

Gearing up for rush hour traffic for Security Force Defenders is hectic to say the least, but is also a time when vigilance is most critical. Senior Airman Carmen Bigas, of the 45th Security Forces Squadron, was on post at approximately 6:10 a.m. when a vehicle attempting to enter the base had trouble negotiating the curved path up to the guard house. The car's short stops, reverse and forward movements raised concerns with Bigas who felt something wasn't quite right. 

When the driver finally made it to the gate guards and handed an ID card through an open window, the smell of an alcoholic beverage indicated a potential danger to their self and possibly others. Security Forces Squadron Defender also at the gate, Airman 1st Class Samantha Lero immediately called for backup and DUI testing.

Additional SFS personnel arrived to test the individual, while Bigas and Lero kept traffic moving. The driver ended up failing the breathalyzer test, after blowing a .159 breath alcohol content, which was well over Florida's legal limit of .08.

"Our streets and the surrounding community are safer today because of the swift response Bigas and Lero used to professionally defuse the situation," said Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander.  "Their training and readiness were unsurpassed. Once they saw the signs of erratic behavior coupled with the smell of alcohol, they went into action. "

Upon completion of the test, SFS personnel held the individual, issued a citation, wrote the reports, and kept her in our custody until released later that day.

"This should serve as a simple reminder that in today's daily routine, there is no substitute for vigilance," said Monteith. "We are in the holiday season and it's important to relieve stress without losing control. There are some consequences in life that are irreversible, so please stay focused. Had our defenders not acted, tomorrow's front page news story could have been a fatal car accident kills ... But it won't, thanks to a team of vigilant Defenders. Vigilance is everyone's responsibility, always stay sharp and more importantly, stay safe."

Editor's Note:   December has been designated National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.