Mario Vittone joined the Coast Guard as a helmsman and small boat coxswain, then became a rescue swimmer, doing two tours at Air Station Elizabeth City and one at Air Station New Orleans. He also worked as an instructor and course developer at the Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2013 following four years as a vessel inspector and accident investigator in Norfolk, Virginia. In 2007, he was named the Coast Guard Active Duty Enlisted Person of the Year and in 2009 won the Alex Haley Award for Journalism.
Vittone is an expert on immersion hypothermia, drowning, sea survival and safety at sea. He has developed courses on search and rescue tactics and open ocean survival for municipal rescue teams and the military and is currently teaching an online course for BoatersUniversity.com called Safety And Rescue At Sea. Vittone authored the Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog for Soundingsonline.com and is the author of the Lifelines column in Soundings magazine.