From Fighting Fires to Writing Prose, How One Former EMS Lieutenant is Changing the Norm


By: Alexandra Fasulo || Features

It’s not every day that you hear about a public servant, specifically a firefighter, moving into a creative field post-service. Firefighting takes an incredible amount of strength, sacrifice, and focus to ensure people are protected, and in some cases, saved at the expense of the firefighter’s life. It’s an admiral position that not many people in society are prepared to serve as, which is why we are all always so grateful for these brave individuals.

Well, one firefighter and former EMS Lieutenant in the Albany, New York region is demonstrating that using public servant experience can be the perfect platform for launching a photography and writing business. In a world moving ever closer to a full-time “gig economy,” whereby everyone can work from home, run their own gig, and pursue their own niche interests, Thomas Slatin is eager to get out ahead of the competition with his newfound future.

Starting as a career EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), bringing his dedication, courage, and compassion to the forefront of his public servant’s heart every single day, Slatin began his work as an EMT in 1998 with the Stamford Fire Department. Receiving his license at just 18-years-old, Slatin volunteered his time and service immediately, seeing everything from cardiac arrest victims, to gruesome scenes that made even the toughest of firefighters sick to their stomachs. As one of the few individuals in Delaware County, New York, who subconsciously knew he wanted to dedicate his time to protecting fellow citizens and community members, Slatin signed up for years of never-ending training and teaching, given the nature of his role as an EMT.

Tasked with learning about new medical discoveries, medication, procedures, and norms on the fly, in high pressure situations, Slatin felt his role of EMT challenged him to use different portions of his brain and dexterity all at once, rolled together with his natural compassion for his friends, neighbors, and community members.

Believing that all people should volunteer in one way or another, Slatin received immense personal joy from his role as a public servant. Simultaneously, gifted in the world of creative expression, Slatin was also pursuing his writing, photography, and website design business at the same time. But, it wasn’t until recently that he resigned after serving 18 years as a full-time paid EMT and Firefighter to finally pursue these innate passions and talents full-time.

Thomas Slatin has been employed as a writer, photographer, and website designer since 1998, when he was one of the first people to foray into the world of Internet indulgence. Ahead of the curve, Slatin knew that website platforms would be something of invaluable worth as the years progressed, aptly teaching himself how to master UX design and experience before the term “UX” was even used. He created his first website in high school, on which he began to showcase his photography work. Realizing no eCommerce solutions were available quite yet for the fulfillment of selling his photography, this market gap piqued his interest into pursuing the art of website creation even further.

Since then, he has mastered a variety of digital marketing techniques, adapting with the ever-changing nature of technology and how it relates to visual marketing. He builds all websites using the WordPress developer tool, considered one of the most difficult by modern-day website designers. Never satisfied with remaining complacent, he has even extended these talents into the millennial demands of the day, learning the tricks and tips of mastering photo-sharing app, Instagram, among others.

So how does an EMT blossom into an Instagram influencer later in life? There were early indicators that Slatin was never going to be ordinary – but extraordinary. Is this kind of discovery innate or environmental? In Slatin’s case, he was born with it.

When Slatin was in grade school, his parents had an inkling that their son might be intellectually advanced beyond his years. Requiring him to sit for tests three separate times, the guidance counselor announced that Slatin was eons ahead of his peers in English, Science, and Tecnology. However, although Slatin’s parents did not want him to be placed out of his grade among new students older than him, they did agree to let him attend a local college study focus group, where he would be observed and tested by professors.

Alien, cold, and perplexing to a young Slatin, this kind of special attention and adoration for his intellect began when he was just a child; before he could really even comprehend the depth and the strength of what existed inside his mind. He used to sit there and think to himself, “why are adults so fascinated with how my childlike brain works?”

At the same time, Slatin was interested in creative endeavors, leveraging his interest in film photography. He learned under his late father, Dr. Harvey L. Slatin, to produce beautiful photography in multiple formats through the use of film.

Slatin is a registered photographer with both Getty Images and iStock today, selling his work to interested entrepreneurs and business owners in need of crisp, clear, and creative photography that will help them tell their stories. Slatin is known for his urban exploration, nature, and locomotive photography. He has perfected both film and digital photography, as well as black and white, plus color, photography using his Canon 5D Mark IV.

Recently, Slatin’s photograph of the historically known property, The Westholm Hotel, was featured on the front page of the Daily Star in Oneonta, New York. Due to his love of urban exploration and photographing, Slatin had been eyeing the property for awhile, swooping in to capture an award-winning image that was heralded in Central New York.

Slatin also made an appearance on the “That’s What She Said” interview through WIOX in October 2018, where he discussed his passions as a photographer and writer. Looking further into his upbringing, Slatin also opened up about this impact and guidance he received from his mother, the Former Mayor of Stamford, Anne Pratt Slatin.

Just to give you an idea of how deep Tom’s passion for writing runs, to date, he has posted 2,581 posts on his blog, 14 pages of content, 504 drafts, 17 categories, 56 tags, and 437,440 total words over his years exploring the world of writing and literacy. Additionally, his blog has accumulated 3,741 comments, of which zero required moderating approval due to the supportive and positive nature of the content. Examples of his news-related blog posts available for reading include “Planting Native Milkweed and Wildflowers to Help Monarch Butterflies Thrive,” “Photographer Discusses Finding True Talents and Purpose,” and “Thomas Slatin is Career EMT.”

His award-winning blog even received recognition as DreamHost’s “Dreamist blog of the year” in 2016. Discussing the success this past October on NPR, a dream come true to Slatin who always dreamed of sharing his work with readers and listeners across the country, interview hosts with the network underscored the unique versatility, vitality, and emotion that is strung through each carefully selected word in Slatin’s most telling blogs and articles.

Today, you can read through Slatin’s personal writings on his website, where he lets readers into an intimate part of mind, covering everything from science and nature, to his upbringing. With a carefully crafted introduction that draws readers in, it’s hard to not continue reading each piece of writing shared by the Upstate New York creative mogul.

Naturally, as someone who dedicates his life to preserve what “he finds to be beautiful and interesting,” Slatin has also amassed an Instagram following of over 250,000 followers. Placing him comfortably in the ranks of Instagram influencers, Slatin also commands a following on Twitter, Flickr, and, where fans, fellow photographers, and creative alike flock to share their opinions and perspectives of the world around us.

Believing in the future as opposed to denying the scary nature of the unknown, Slatin uses many modern photo editing and sharing apps that he believes are important if he is to share the nature, subject, and passion behind his photography. More of a philanthropist and educator, Slatin uses millennial means to connect with a generation moving farther and farther away from the history and essence of the communities around us.

Slatin attributes his social media success to his determination and discipline, as he posts blogs every single day, at the same time, immediately promoting them on his social media channels. Researching hashtags and search tools as they uniquely relate to each social media channel, he constantly teaches himself about new social media marketing methods that ensures his writing and photography is shared with all interested viewers. Recalling how his father told him anything is achievable in life with dedication and perseverance, Slatin wholeheartedly agrees that spirit can carry anyone, of any age, through the age of social media.

As clearly indicated by the multi-faceted life lived thus far by Thomas Slatin, he is never content simply accepting a role or two and staying still. Therefore, he is presently foraying into the world of historical building preservation and photography, hoping to provide a permanence and infamy to buildings that are essential to telling the stories long forgotten in America’s small towns. He is available to property owners, particularly those in the state of New York, who are in the process of restoring historical properties or locomotives. Slatin believes that photography can assist with the assessment of a property while documenting the current state of the property for owners wishing to preserve as much of the history as possible.

Expanding beyond the New York horizons, Slatin plans to hit the road this year and photograph as much of the United States as possible. With a unique eye that is able to uncover an entire story, emotions, and hopes in just one single frame, Slatin is ready to explore the nuances.

In the same vein of historical preservation, Slatin hosts his own online exhibition that features his personal collection of obscure curiosities. These items are part of his personal and permanent collection, and although they are not for sale, they are available for perusing online. All questions and comments are welcome, as Slatin hopes to foster a love and appreciation for history with present and future generations.

As clearly passionate curator, Slatin is presently working on additional projects, in-person and online, that will further capture the history that lingers underneath all of our feet on a daily basis – we just need to know where to look for it.

Today, Slatin is available for hire on a temporary, part-time, or freelance basis in the areas of writing or photography. He is always receptive to opening up his horizons and considering new projects that might be out of his wheelhouse. He believes that if we are to keep living, we must continue learning and harnessing the promises, hopes, and changes of the future. Delving deep into his public servant’s heart, where he will always be able to tap into compassion, courage, and empathy for those around him, Slatin is on a mission to educate, bring awareness, and underscore the value, importance, and culture of the communities, structures, and people around us.

Slatin can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, IMDB, and other photography sites where he is a registered and accomplished photographer.

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana.