Chief Operating Officer, Cetronia Ambulance Corps
Bob Mateff has enjoyed a decades-long career as a public safety professional in Lehigh Valley. “I like to think that I’ve had every young person’s dream job,” he said.
He started in his teens as a volunteer with the local fire company, which led to training as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), then a paramedic, followed by a deputy sheriff and eventually he graduated from DeSales University with a degree in criminal justice.
He was born and raised in Hellertown and educated in the Saucon Valley School District, where he would eventually send his own children. “It took a little time as a young person to find out what I really wanted to do, and then I leveraged the adult learning program at DeSales to advance my education and transition into the management side,” said Bob.
His years of public experience were instrumental in the development of Northampton County’s 911 Center, overseeing the consolidation of multiple independent answering points before being appointed by Governor Wolf to serve as Deputy of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).
“It was a great opportunity with the ability to create programs that help, but when you work for an organization that large it can be hard to move the needle. One of the things I love most about being with Cetronia Ambulance Corps is that while we’re one of the largest in the Lehigh Valley, it’s a small enough group that I can affect change and make a bigger difference for our associates. My role is to provide the environment for our staff to do their job well.”
As a community-based nonprofit celebrating its 65th year in operation, Cetronia works hard to focus on community service and their relationship to the people that they serve. “One of the greatest assets our region has is the robust healthcare system we have here. We have two incredibly strong health networks (in Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network). At Cetronia, we work with both and we’re fortunate to have such high-quality health care here.”
Having grown up and spent most of his life in Lehigh Valley, Bob witnessed the evolution of the region firsthand. “The area is very adaptable. One quality that comes to mind when you think back through the history of Lehigh Valley is that it’s resurgent. You might knock it down for a little while, but it’s going to come back even stronger.” He now lives in Washington Township, a largely rural community in the Slate Belt, an area rich in culture and history that was once the largest slate-producing region in the world.
“Whether you’re looking for a small rural school district or you’d like a larger urban one, we have it all here. There are some that are more theatrical, and some that are better known for their athletics, but there’s a place for everyone.”
He’s found that sweet spot for himself and his family here. It’s large enough that they enjoy access to professional sports teams, but also small enough that he feels comfortable letting his kids explore on their own. “I remember my kids were probably 11 and 12, and I’d let them walk around the IronPigs ballpark by themselves because it’s a safe environment.”
Bob has spent most of his life in Lehigh Valley and doesn’t see that changing any time soon. “It’s great living here and we also have easy access to other things if we want to get away. We’re so close to two big metropolitan areas in Philadelphia and New York City. I could go to the shore or I can be in the mountains in a few hours. Where else can you live where you have all that and you can actually afford to live there?”
Live like a local:
Favorite season in Lehigh Valley: Springtime, because I can start to get out and fish, I can still see a hockey game, and I can get to a baseball game … The climate here is awesome for getting out in our parks and recreation areas.
What does a typical weekend look like? Getting outside, perhaps going to ArtsQuest or a festival or any number of our local cultural events … That could be a movie in the park, it could be a musical presentation or sometimes heading over to the Wind Creek Casino.
Advice to someone new to the region: Each of the cities has unique offerings. Bethlehem has its two business districts with Main Street and the Southside. They’re vastly different, but they’re equally awesome. Allentown has sports venues and its restaurants. Easton also has great restaurants and unique events like Bacon Fest and Garlic Fest, and the Farmers Market, one of the longest running in the country.
Favorite restaurant: The Crossroads Hotel in Hellertown. It has fond memories for me, from the time I went to a junior high dance in Hellertown up to taking my sons there for dinners over the years.