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Travel website helps determine risks when planning events

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Returning from deployment, getting ready for marriage, a promotion and three-day weekends are just some of the occasions in which Airmen take the time to plan and schedule leave.

Planning for a good time on leave is not only limited to the destination, however. The element of safety can be properly attended to with one of many Department of Defense's programs.

According to Tech. Sgt. Brent Ochs, the NCO in charge of the aerospace and operational physiology flight here, the Travel Risk Planning System is an effective way for service members to plan the actual traveling portion of trips while taking any possible dangers into account.

"Military members can use (it) to effectively plan a trip while traveling here in Europe or in the U.S.," Sergeant Ochs said. "It will give door-to-door directions along with a risk-management checklist for effectively mitigating fatigue and any other dangers while driving.

"TRiPS is replacing the Air Education Training Command Form 29b, and supervisors can use this to inspect their (Airmen's) vehicles and ensure they have a good plan," he said.

The form 29b served as a stepping stone to found the concept of an electronic means to ensure safety for Airmen preparing to travel, he said.

"This form was derived from the (Air Education and Training Command) because they have many students and young Airmen who are statistically involved in many mishaps when they are on an extended holiday or leave," said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Blodgett, the 52nd Fighter Wing NCO in charge of ground safety. "This form or any other pre-departure form is not mandatory in (U.S. Air Forces in Europe); however, it is a good idea to use."

This program not only benefits the user by providing information and ideas that can reduce risks, it also tries to provide a connection within the Air Force chain of command.

"The general purpose of the system is for supervisors to have a more active role in their Airmen's decision-making process and steer them in the right directions for safety reasons," Sergeant Ochs said. "The system outlines what the individual's plan for that specific trip and also calculates the risk by what type of car they are driving, weather forecasts and time of day they are traveling.

"The program is a very good tool for supervisors to use," Sergeant Ochs said. "It allows the supervisor to review the individual's itinerary and talk about specific red flags that TRiPS sends out. It also allows for better situational awareness for potential high-risk situations you need to look out for."

From a firsthand experience, Sergeant Ochs has used the system to test what the possibilities and abilities of the website are.

"I have gotten into the program and selected different scenarios to include traveling during the night compared to planning a trip during the day," he said. "A big advantage you can use it for is to get directions to the location you are going."

Although due for implementation soon, the new steps of operational-risk management are not scheduled to be integrated into TRiPS, said Sergeant Ochs.

"Overall, the Air Force is currently revamping the risk-management program and changing it from the six-step process to a five-step process," Sergeant Ochs said. "You could see a change with that aspect of the program."

The TRiPS website is available for users with common-access cards on computers connected to government networks. It offers information about safe motorcycling, travel tips and maps.