Jamie Haddon jokes that he was born “hanging out” at the Horsham Fire Company lounge.
Judging from the fact that the 1991 Hatboro-Horsham High School grad is a third-generation emergency medical services worker, there’s probably a bit of truth to it.
“You can’t take it out of me,” said Haddon, of Doylestown, who has worked or volunteered in emergency services for 21 years. “It’s a way of life. It’s a part of your family.”
In a matter of weeks, Haddon’s “family” will change – at least the ones he has worked with for the last nine years as executive director of Second Alarmers Rescue Squad. In mid-February, Haddon, who gave the Second Alarmers 60 days notice, will begin a new position as United Way of Bucks County CEO and president.
“It was a very hard decision for me and my family. The staff here is the premiere staff in the region,” Haddon said of Second Alarmers. “Now it’s time for me to go and help somebody else.”
And help is what Haddon has always set out to do. Second Alarmers President Dr. William Crielly, who nominated Haddon for an emergency services award which he won in November, credited Haddon with taking the lead on several grants that netted Second Alarmers' paid and volunteer staff their own sets of protective gear. It was Haddon who worked with local legislators in Second Alarmers’ seven-municipality coverage region in Montgomery County to raise $500,000 for a new station in Whitpain Township, Crielly said.
“I personally could not do the job that he’s done,” Crielly said, adding that a search committee has been assembled to find a replacement – if there is one – for Haddon. “It’s going to be hard … I want to make sure we get the right person in there.”
Lynn Bush, United Way of Bucks County chairwoman, knows how tough it can be to find the right candidate. The organization’s previous executive director left in November 2010, Bush said, adding that two existing staff people shared the duties.
“We were looking for a number of things in a candidate for this - somebody who could be a good fundraiser, someone with good organizational skills, somebody who could be almost a community mobilizer and get the community involved in this. It was a bonus to have somebody who knows Bucks County,” Bush said. “We’re very excited to have him come onboard. He has a lot of support on the board. He seems like a very enthusiastic person.”
For Haddon, who credits his life’s success to his education at Hatboro-Horsham, the United Way offers him the opportunity to return to his career roots in the nonprofit sector. Prior to Second Alarmers, he had worked for Delaware Valley College, as well as the Boy Scouts.
His position with Second Alarmers "matched my emergency service love with my talent to fundraise," Haddon said. Even after his Second Alarmers career is behind him, Haddon, who had volunteered most recently with Doylestown Fire Company, said emergency services will stay in his blood.
He recalled holidays when his grandfather, father and mother – all life members of Horsham Fire Company and Horsham Ambulance Corps – would sit around during the holidays talking about fire calls.
“You get to hear the old guys talk about stories,” Haddon said. “I guess sooner or later I’ll be one of them.”