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"Your book was given to me as a gift for my birthday about a month ago. I was so excited to get through the pages to see more pics, but I was so overcome with emotions that I have tucked away for years and years , it took me almost 2 weeks to finish it. It is the most beautiful gift I have ever been given. The way you capture images shows so much intensity, so much emotion and feeling. You get right to the heart of why I do this job and love it, and hate it, so much. The raw emotion is almost too much at times, but I also needed this reminder of how much I really do love this job. I almost gave up and threw in he towel, but after reading your book I felt so refreshed to know someone understands how intense day to day can really be. I thank you, and am looking forward to your next book !!" - Jodi Beck, EMT

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"Every time i see one of your amazing works of art my stomach flips, after 30 years in EMS they bring back so many memories" - Paramedic, NYC

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DanSun Photoart written

Daniel Sundahl

Artist / Firefighter / Paramedic/ Public Speaker and Traveller

I've been fortunate enough to live in several countries and experience many cultures from around the world. Travel....Music....Photography...Art, throw in a little Paramedic work and Firefighting for excitement and that's me. 

I'm passionate about raising mental health awareness for first responders, many of these images are based on real calls I've attended over a 17 year career as a full time paramedic and firefighter. I put a lot of emotion in my work and as you look through these images you may connect with them if you're a fellow first responder. If you've never worked in emergency services then these images will give you a glimpse into our world.

Thanks for visiting my page and feel free to use the 'contact me' link above if you would like to get in touch.


All images © 2011-2020 DanSun PhotoArt


Here's a commissioned image I recently finished for The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. CANSOFCOM is a high-readiness organization, able to deploy special operations forces on very short notice to protect Canadians from threats at home and abroad.

Rig Check

Missing Woman Formation

The Covid 19 Selfie Project

Station Trauma

Over the past several years, I’ve spoken with thousands of my peers from all over the world. We talk about protocols, mental health, trauma, recovery, resiliency and causes of mental injuries. Non-traumatic organizational factors is a common theme mentioned when I hear about their stressors. We seem to focus on trauma exposure when talking about PTSD and other aspects of poor mental health, but what are some of the other, controllable, contributing factors to our mental wellbeing?

On February 14th, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a paper titled Assessing the Relative Impact of Diverse Stressors among Public Safety Personnel. The results of this study that included 4441 respondents showed that non-traumatic workplace stressors appear to be MORE critical than trauma exposure for poor mental health in emergency workers. Some of the non-traumatic factors included:

Dealing with co-workers

The feeling that different rules apply to different people (e.g., favouritism)

Excessive administrative duties

Constant change in policy/legislation

Staff shortages

Perceived pressure to volunteer free time

Dealing with supervisors

Inconsistent leadership style

Leaders over-emphasize the negatives

Internal investigations

Feeling like you always have to prove yourself to the organization

Why are the results of this study so relevant? We can’t control the traumatic factors of our job, but we can change the non-traumatic elements. The ‘Station Stress’ we receive, which, according to this study, is a more accurate predictor of our mental health than the trauma we experience, can be mitigated by changes in our work environments. The conclusion of this study recommends policy makers should explore ways to minimize station stress in support of emergency workers by creating a psychologically safe workplace. Simply put – Validate, Support and Understand. If you’re a manager, supervisor or chief officer I strongly suggest you download a full copy of the paper here:…/i…/article_deploy/ijerph-17-01234.pdf


Like whiffing too much perfume until you can't smell anything, too much trauma numbs our emotions until we can't feel anymore. Joy, happiness and excitement abandon us, and we're left with depression, anxiety and fear. The irony is, when we're in our deepest darkness, we crave not to feel anything anymore and want to stop everything. We're left scraped out and hollowed.

We need to be restarted and jolted back into the person we used to be, but it's near impossible to do without help. Ask for the help you need and deserve.

Stay safe everyone, and let's look out for each other. 




I’m very fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to travel, exhibit my artwork and speak about mental health for first responders. When I travel, I always make a point to meet as many of my peers as I can and ask them about their mental health and support programs available to them. I try to get an accurate sense of their challenges, why they feel the way they do and what they do to overcome it. This is what I’ve learned:

A complete mental wellness program includes three components, preventative (peer support), critical incident response (CISM), and reintegration. It’s also important that these three programs work seamlessly together and in unison. Peer support to minimize and recognize mental trauma early, CISM to manage the acute mental injuries, and reintegration to get the employee back to work. Reintegration, by the way, isn’t just preparing the worker; it’s also educating managers and coworkers on what to do and not do to help integrate their brothers and sisters back to becoming effective emergency workers.

I’ve also learned that the sense of support comes down to three feelings. Feeling supported, feeling understood and feeling validated. Being told to “suck it up” makes us feel unsupported and misunderstood. Being told “that call wasn’t that bad” makes us feel invalidated. Being told “if you can’t hack it then get out” makes us feel unsupported, misunderstood and invalidated. Feeling this way prolongs recovery, costs the employer more money and potentially digs a hole so deep some of us never recover. I’m very proud of how far we have come when it comes to mental wellbeing awareness for emergency workers but there’s still a long, long, long way to go before we figure out how to properly tame this monster.

Be safe everyone and let's look out for each other.




Cozy Blanket

Some of you may not understand the concept of this image. The idea of suicide being a cozy blanket would be a foreign thought to a healthy mind. For those of us who have dealt with a constant barrage of dreadful thoughts and feelings, just want a reprieve from it all. Suicide isn't meant to end a life; it's intended to stop the constant attack of depression, shame, insecurity and guilt - Just turn it all off, feel nothing and be at peace.

The problem lies in the altered mind and chemical changes that shroud the alternate solution. This is where the devil gets his power, he's the master of lies and convinces us there's no other way. He makes us believe suicide is like a cozy blanket that will make all the pain go away. Don't listen to him, there's another way. Start by simply asking for help.

Stay safe, everyone and let's lookout for eachother.


When you've reached the point where you just don't give a shit anymore, and you would just rather not feel anything - then that's when support from your family, supervisors and peers has the most impact.


There's not enough space to do CPR in a helicopter - unless you only need to use your fingertips.

Hang On

Hang On

Often we're so surprised when a first responder takes their life. They show no signs of struggle or of the pain they're in. I know what it's like because I was there once myself. We're afraid that others will perceive us as being weak and we get very good at hiding our torment and agony from our family and co-workers. I call this the 'false okay' and have created a few images portraying this state of mind.

Here are a few signs and symptoms that may be a clue that things aren't as okay as they seem:

-Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy

-Withdrawn and distant -Irritable behaviour, angry outburst, or acting aggressively

-Taking too many risks or doing things that could cause them harm

-Being jumpy or easily startled

The next first responder suicide may be closer to home than you think. I think it's worth the risk to ask a co-worker or family member if they're okay - and when they undoubtedly say "I'm fine" - ask them again but look them in the eye and tell them why you're asking. Give examples of the changes in behaviour that you've noticed. Tell them it's okay, and you will listen if/when they want to talk. Comfort will come from feeling accepted and engaged so offer to just hang out if they're not ready to talk. Here's a good article on how to help someone with PTSD from 



Real heroes don't have super powers or get paid millions to play sports. Real heroes risk their own physical and mental well being to save others.


The day we feel as comfortable reporting a mental injury as we do reporting a physical injury is the day this demon loses her power. Our employers must be equally ready to accept this and know how to react as the worker is to report it. 

Fear & Shame

If I was physically injured saving someone from a fire everyone would see me as a hero. What if I was mentally injured saving someone? Would everyone still see me as a hero? Would you have any hesitation reporting a mental injury over a physical injury? I think many of us would.

Why is that? It's because of fear, shame and embarrassment. The sad part is that if some of us do report a mental injury we are blackballed, looked upon as weak and are victims of the negative stigma. This is preventing many of us from getting the help we need which makes the mental injury even worse.

The idea for this image was given to me by Matt McGregor, a firefighter from Western Canada and it's a concept many of us can relate to. The fear, shame, embarrassment and negative stigma is this demon's power and it's preventing many first responders from getting the help they need. Deny this demon his power by standing up to the negative stigma.


103 firefighters died by suicide in 2017, compared to 93 firefighter line-of-duty deaths, according to the Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization that fights for the rights of people with disabilities. The study also found that little has been done to address PTSD and depression in responders, even though they are five times more likely than civilians to suffer from symptoms.

I'm sure not all of these suicides are the result of work related mental injuries but I'm also sure that there were many other firefighter suicides that were not part of this study. In one survey of over 1,000 active and retired firefighters, nearly half of respondents stated that they had considered suicide, which is over three times the rate of the general population, and 16 percent had actually attempted suicide, as compared to 2–9 percent of the general population.

Most firefighters will study line of duty deaths to learn what went wrong, we'll listen to audio tapes of the call and train to prevent similar events from happening in the future. I wish as much energy was given to prevent firefighter suicides. When I first heard these stats I was blown away, why aren't we doing more to prevent these deaths? I know many departments have started mental health initiatives which is fantastic but I would think more would do the same after hearing these statistics.

I called this piece Sorry. Several first responders on the edge of taking their lives have told me that they don't wish to die, they don't want to leave their families but they feel suicide is their only option for peace. It's very sad and I wish more was being done for our brothers and sisters to prevent these tragic deaths. 

The In Between

EMS Women

When I have people come to my gallery they sometimes ask me why some of my images are so graphic. This question is almost always asked by a non-first responder. They assume I’m adding the trauma and gore for a gratuitous effect.

I explain to them that this is the reality of our job. I explain to them that what they see in my work is what I actually saw on that call and in many cases it was much worse. If you are a non-first responder looking at this image imagine what this scene was like before this suicidal patient was sedated. Imagine the noise this patient made while trying to scream without a jaw, imagine trying to keep your shit together as a medic trying to save this persons life.

There’s nothing gratuitous about this image, this is what we see and this is what we do…and we love it.

I also wanted to create another image for my EMS sisters who kick ass in this job and who are just as good and in many cases better than some men I know doing this job.

Stay safe everyone.



The Firefighter

Peaceful Mind

My mind is always racing. I try to keep it controlled but I often find it’s on its own thinking about seemingly random things. A Buddhist monk would say I have a ‘Monkey Mind’. It’s not so bad except for when I sleep. At night it’s no longer restrained by my conscious mind and it’s allowed to run amok. I rarely sleep well and often when I wake I’m overcome with a feeling of dread. Luckily I can’t remember but know in the evening my brain was overflowing with nightmares.

I’ve been told a mind that never stops is a common symptom creative people share, is that it? Then why the nightmares? Could this be a result of 15 years working on the ambulance? I’m curious if any other paramedics, fire fighters or police officers have this problem.

This image shows an angel telling a paramedic to just relax, it’s going to be okay, I’ve got your back. Chill the f*** out!

I crave solitude

I crave a peaceful mind

I crave a good nights sleep

I crave silence and peace of mind 

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