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When Disaster Strikes… Mel Mastrodomenico BSP ’52 Is There

12/5/2011 MastrodomenicoMany people seek a pulse pounding adrenaline rush through recreational activities. For Emilio (Mel) Mastrodomenico BSP  ’52 , 23 years of volunteer service with the Massachusetts-2 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (MA-2DMAT) has consistently delivered that excitement. Yet, there’s more to the story of Mel Mastrodomenico than disaster response.

As the first family member to graduate from college, Mel quickly and fully capitalized upon the value of his education.  In a storied, nearly 30-year career in pharmacy, he owned and operated three independent pharmacies including Village Pharmacy in Sterling, Mass., Rutland Pharmacy in Rutland, Mass. and Great Road Pharmacy in Acton, Mass.  Despite long hours and the obligations associated with operating three thriving businesses, Mel also maintained an active family life with six children who have, over time, added six of their own children to Mel’s extended family.  And even at age 81 years young, Mel still works as a part-time pharmacist at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, Mass. 

Yet, when disaster strikes, Mel Mastrodomenico enters another zone.

Mel belongs to MA-2DMAT, an elite group of 35 medical personnel who are often deployed at a moment’s notice to deliver medical care during large-scale catastrophe.  Since 1992, Mel has worked at numerous disaster scenes, including those left by Hurricane Andrew, the September 11 World Trade Center attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake.  In recalling the events of 9/11, Mel reflects, “We were called immediately after the attacks.  We first arrived that evening at Stuart Air Force Base and slept in a hangar. The following day we were transported to ground zero where I had six hours to organize two pharmacy stations”. For the following two weeks, Mel and a fellow pharmacist managed two pharmacy stations at a delicatessen and the American Express Building near ground zero. “We worked in 12 hours shifts, treating first responders working at the site.  All communications were down so I had no contact with my family.” 

In appreciation and recognition for the countless hours, days and weeks that he has spent providing disaster relief, Mel received the National Disaster Medical System’s Thomas J. Shepardson Leadership Award last May.   Now, in a new role, Mel has agreed to serve as the MCP Reunion Class Agent for his 60th college reunion next spring.  “I have always loved being a pharmacist. I had a great education at MCPHS and I will always appreciate the education and training the College gave to me. I believe it is important that alumni give back and support our institution.”