Air Force 'chatters' save an Airman half-a-world away Published Nov. 1, 2007 By Senior Master Sgt. Bob Blauser Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Air Force Recruiting Service online advisors, or "chatters," lean on their extensive experience as former recruiters to answer up to 4,000 questions each week -- helping generate leads for Air Force recruiters. Craig Black had only been part of the chatter team for about one month when he recently noticed an unusual e-mail addressed to AirForce.com. The message came from a distraught Airman at an overseas base, and it suggested that she might try to harm herself. "As soon as I read it I knew it was serious because of what she was saying," said Mr. Black, a retired Master Sergeant who recruited for more than 11 years. "I knew I had to respond." Mr. Black immediately enlisted the help of his team leader, Max Sellers, a former 12-year recruiter. Within minutes, they involved division leaders and the Air Force Recruiting Service first sergeant. Mr. Sellers said the distraught Airman then came onto AirForce.com to chat with someone, and he responded. The chatters sent for one of AFRS's accession chaplains, who conveniently work just five doors down the hall. "The chaplain (Capt. Lance Giannone) stood over me making sure I was doing the right thing as we chatted," Mr. Sellers said. "Just him being there helped reassure what I was saying." Chaplain Giannone said the most important thing to consider when dealing with a situation where someone is thinking of hurting themselves is to keep the person engaged. "Mr. Sellers did a tremendous job of calming the Airman down until help got to her," Chaplain Giannone said. Mr. Sellers made idle chit-chat with the Airman while trying to get information from her to help pinpoint her location. During the hour-and-a-half ordeal, he simultaneously fed that information over the phone to the command post at the Airman's base. "While I was chatting with her and talking to the command post, I could hear communication and radios in the background," Mr. Sellers said. "There was a high pitch in everybody's voice." The command post at her location coordinated a response with medical, security forces and chaplain agencies. They soon found the Airman unharmed. "We're here in Texas, and this was happening at exactly the same time across the world," Mr. Black said. "It happened through the chain of command, it all came together and everything worked like it should. Not every day working as a chatter is as rewarding as this one was!"