Mario's first experience with at-sea emergencies was as ship's company aboard the USS Coral Sea, a WWII era aircraft carrier, in 1985. Joining the Coast Guard in 1991 he worked at Training Center Cape May before transferring to the Cutter Point Franklin as a helmsman and small boat coxswain. He graduated from Helicopter Rescue Swimmer School in 1994 and began his career in helicopter rescue with two tours at Air Station Elizabeth City, one at Air Station New Orleans, then finally as an instructor and course developer at the Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City, NC. He retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2013 following four years as a vessel inspector and accident investigator in Norfolk, Virginia.
Mario is a leading expert on immersion hypothermia, drowning, sea survival, and safety at sea. His writing has appeared in Yachting Magazine, Soundings, SaltWater Sportsman, MotorBoating Magazine, Lifelines, On-Scene, and Reader's Digest. He has developed courses for municipal rescue teams and the military on search and rescue tactics and open ocean survival. In 2007, he was named as the Coast Guard Active Duty Enlisted Person of the Year and was named as the 2009 recipient of the Alex Haley Award for Journalism.