2002-08-31 / Community

Episcopal Health CIO

Aids In Disaster Relief

Aids In Disaster Relief

Since he was 14 years old, Ronald Tomo has been an avid ham radio operator. "I was always fascinated that you could speak into a black box and be talking to someone in Australia," he said.

Today, with more than 30 years of radio experience, Tomo, Chief Information Officer of Episcopal Health Services, has been named Assistant Director of the New York State U.S. Army Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS). MARS is a Department of Defense sponsored program that is separately managed and operated by the Army, Navy, and Air Force and uses a network of licensed amateur radio operators who are interested in military communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to normal communications.

Tomo's work with MARS is part of a voluntary service in Disaster Relief and is related to Homeland Security and President Bush's citizen volunteer program. While the events of September 11 brought the issue of Homeland Security and Disaster Relief to the forefront, Tomo, who runs an amateur radio station out of his North Bellmore home, has been involved with these causes for about three years.

"To become a member of MARS, you are required to be a licensed radio operator and you are given extensive training by the U.S. Army to learn their communications protocols and Emergency Management," he said. "So basically you train and drill for something you hope never happens."

Tomo's training was put to the ultimate test following September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington.

"We were activated on 9/11 to provide communications and handling emergency traffic," Tomo said. "You've trained well and you know the protocols. So you are well-prepared and can function in a productive way to help in a disaster situation."

Since then, Tomo has been working in a non-emergency capacity to provide communications from the troops in Afghanistan. For example, he explained, if a soldier wants to relay a message home to his wife.

In his new role at MARS, Tomo will be second in command in charge of training and the execution of all communications during a major disaster. Tomo will continue working in his capacity as Chief Information Officer at EHS, where his responsibilities include managing all information systems, data communications and telecommunications at EHS' various locations throughout Nassau County and Queens, including St. John's Episcopal Hospital South Shore in Far Rockaway.

Tomo is also a Division Commander holding the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Command (USSC), a volunteer organization that trains citizens for action during times of extreme crisis and for disaster recovery. The USSC is a broad-based disaster relief organization that utilizes citizens from all walks of life and various levels of achievement. Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Ron Tomo at rtomo@optonline.net.

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