MEET DEPUTY ASSISTANT DIRECTOR TOM POLONIS
Tom Polonis, who has joined TDEM as Deputy Assistant Director for Response, worked for the San Antonio Police Department for 34 years, serving in Incident Command positions for everything from hurricanes to basketball tournaments and the San Antonio Fiesta. Polonis explains that his goal for TDEM is “to create a team that is well trained to do the best job possible.”
Polonis added: “I see our job here as coordination, support and planning. It is the local jurisdictions who do Incident Command and we will do what we can to support the locals. We’re going to do our best to improve processes and procedures needed to do that.”
Chief W. Nim Kidd said: “It is with great pride that I welcome Tom Polonis to the Texas Division of Emergency Management. There are several areas I want to enhance, including Incident Management. Tom will be leading this effort for us.”
As a San Antonio Police Department captain during his last 18 years with the department, Polonis held various section commands including the West Patrol Substation, Operations Support Section, Fiscal Management Section, Traffic and Special Operations Section, Special Investigations Section, and Law Enforcement Liaison to the City Emergency Operations Center and Homeland Security Section.
During his tenure as Captain, Polonis developed plans and managed events including the NBA and Final Four Championship Basketball Games. He was the Incident Commander for San Antonio Fiesta activities and Deputy Incident Commander for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“I have a knack for putting things together. As the Traffic Section Commander, I organized all the large special events. Emergency Management just expanded on those skills,” Polonis said. “And then 9-11 happened and I was assigned to the Emergency Operations Center and have been involved in Emergency Management ever since.”
Polonis was the key leader in the development of the San Antonio Type 3 Incident Management Team as well as the Alamo Regional Command Center. He has participated in several statewide committees to develop Incident Management Teams and set the standard for training and certifications.
He also served as the Incident Commander supporting the state during Hurricanes Dean (2007), Dolly, Gustav and Ike (2008) and Alex (2010). In 2010, Polonis retired from SAPD. He served as Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of San Antonio until taking his new job at TDEM.
“San Antonio has always been a major partner with the state for emergency response and we have worked closely with the state,” Polonis said. “During Hurricanes Dolly, Gustav and Ike, San Antonio was a major contributor to the Texas response. In 2008, we stood up in June and didn’t go home until December. That really challenged everything we did and with each storm, we learned from it and improved.”
Asked what he would like the Texas emergency management community to know about him, Polonis replied: “We have worked closely with Chief Kidd in the past. We know he has high standards and we are up to the task to live up to his expectations in supporting the citizens of Texas.”