RADM Richard F. Barror, U.S. Public Health Service Commission Corps
Chief Engineer Officer
RADM Richard F. Barror leads and coordinates the U.S. Public Health Service engineer professional affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services, advising the Surgeon General and the Engineer Professional Advisory Committee on the recruitment, assignment, deployment, retention, and career development of PHS engineers. He joined the Corps in 1975, managing the design and construction of several Indian Health Service (IHS) water and wastewater projects in Alaskan Native villages. "It was a great experience," he says. "We flew around with crazy bush pilots into nearly every corner of the State. I got to meet all kinds of people, see how they live, and learn their culture, which is different from any I'd known. It was like being in the Peace Corps, except that I got paid for it."
In 1981, he became a design engineer in the IHS Sacramento Area Office and then the district engineer in 1983, responsible for staff in two field offices that provided engineering services for more than 40 tribes. In 1985, RADM Barror became the deputy chief of IHS' nationwide Sanitation Facilities Construction Program, which managed more than 400 active construction projects. "On the face of it, engineering doesn't seem like a public health discipline," explains RADM Barror. "So I enjoy speaking to engineering professionals about programs like the IHS Sanitation Facilities Construction Program, which demonstrates how important engineers are to the public health team." In 1993, he became the program's national director.
From 1998 through 2000, RADM Barror was the acting director of IHS' Office of Environmental Health and Engineering, where he directed all IHS engineering and environmental health programs, including the construction, maintenance, repair, and clinical engineering for IHS and tribally operated hospitals and staff quarters. In 2000, RADM Barror was selected by Surgeon General David Satcher to be the chief of staff, Office of the Surgeon General. Since 2003, RADM Barror has been a senior advisor in the Office of the Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration.
In the fall of 2005, RADM Barror also served as executive officer for the Secretary's Emergency Response Team (SERT) in Louisiana for the 4 weeks immediately after Hurricane Katrina and a month later returned to serve 3 more weeks as the SERT commander. "All of my previous experience came to bear on this particular event. It was a 24/7 job—we were in the field the entire time, and we slept on cots in our makeshift field office," he remembers. "All of the Commissioned Corps officers rose to the occasion. It's truly amazing how much we were able to accomplish for the people of Louisiana in such a short time."
RADM Barror contends, "Public service really is rewarding. Engineers in the Commissioned Corps get to practice their engineering skills at all levels and have great experiences while supporting a noble mission."
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