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- Paramedic, Perth, Australia

"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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"I just retired from 30 years 'on the box'. Your pictures tell the story of my office like none I've ever seen before. Great Work. Thank You!"

- Paramedic, Birmingham, UK

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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 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 15 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 © 2011-2019 DanSun PhotoArt

The Grim Medic

Your patient didn't die because you put a 20g in instead of an 18g - he died because he had a massive heart attack. Your patient didn't die because you couldn't stop the bleeding - he died because his body was crushed in a violent car accident. I wish we would stop judging each other with "He/She shouldn't have done it that way" or "He/She's going to kill someone one day". Unless you were on that call try to keep your judgments to yourself. There's no worse critic then the medic himself who's questioning if he did everything he could and asking if he made any mistakes. He doesn't need armchair paramedics telling everyone how they would have rocked that call instead. Let's try supporting ourselves instead of bashing each other to make ourselves look good. 

The Thirsty Horse

I've heard several emergency services managers say that if their employees don't come to them for mental health support than there's nothing else they can do. They have lots of programs in place and CISM teams ready in case they're needed but how are they suppose to help if the crews don't ask for it? It's the "you can lead a horse to water but can't make them drink" problem.

I think a different approach is needed when dealing with mental health and well being of emergency workers. Applying the same tools used for physical injuries may not always work. I prefer to compare it to fishing. The fish won't jump in your boat, you need to net them. Here's are some initiatives that I've seen other departments use to help their employees before it's too late.

- Officers and supervisors trained to recognize behavioural changed that may be indicative of mental strain and injury. This also helps lower the negative stigma at the management level.

- A tracking system to monitor high acuity calls that can cause or contribute to a mental injury. A peer support member reviews the list and checks in with workers that have had a high number of bad calls over a short time- or an automatic call is indicated in cases of severely stressful calls.

- An easy, safe and stress-free way for workers to ask for help. A tick box at the end of an electronic PCR asking to be contacted by a peer support member, easy access to psychological support or a short form filled out and handed to a peer member or trusted supervisor are methods used by other departments.

- A peer support team member on every shift that works with everyone else. This person can be specifically trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental stresses and check in with co-workers if changes in behaviour appear. The more peer support members, the better.

- Include mental health awareness as part of recruit training and what to do in case of psychological injury.

The problem isn't leading the horse to water, it's recognizing the horse is thirsty. Sometimes he doesn't know how thirsty he is because his capacity has been altered.

A special thanks to my EMS sister Jessica van der Hoek and her horse Dudley for helping me with this photo session.

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 helpguid.org https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/helping-someone-with-ptsd.htm 



When you wake up in the morning, and it's your first 10, 12, 14 or 24 hour day of your tour, what are the very first thoughts that go through your mind? Are you excited, enthusiastic and eager? Or are you anxious, worried and depressed?

Some of us are overcome by a wave of worry and fear when it's time to go to work - and nobody knows because we're really good at hiding it from everyone.

Here's a link to a self-assessment screening tool from the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment. Give yourself a quick check-up from the neck up if you feel you're more anxious than excited about your work.

Have a safe week everyone and let's look out for each other.


We're our own worst critics when it comes to serious calls. Did I miss something? Did I follow the proper procedure? Should I have done something different? Would they have lived if I had done so? I think we all do the best we can in those situations but we're terrified if we missed something.

Often the questions haunt us for years. I called this piece Absolution - the release of consequences. 



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.

North Dakota

Post Traumatic Growth

There’s a lot of work being done to build resiliency and shorten recovery time from mental injuries…which is great. Our goal is to get back to where we were before, get there quickly and build resilience so it’s less likely to happen again – but what if we could be better than before?

A number of literatures, religions, and philosophies throughout human history have conveyed the idea that there is personal gain to be found in suffering. A re-wiring of your mind that is a result of the healing process may make you the best you ever. Not only to recover but to thrive! Post traumatic growth isn’t about recovery, it’s about reconfiguration that results in changes in self perception, perspectives on life and changes in relationships. Do you want to remain impaired? Or do you want to do the necessary healing work to rewire your brain and thrive?

This image shows a Phoenix growing from the paramedic as he transforms his broken mind and thrives to become a better man than he was before his injury. Our goal shouldn’t be to recover, it should be to reconfigure and thrive. Have a safe week everyone.


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.

The Mask and The Reality

The Mask and The Reality

I often receive messages from my peers reaching out and asking for help, I'm so happy this happens as I know they are at least asking for help. When suicides happen they are sometimes so unexpected "I had no idea he was suffering" "He seemed so happy and had everything to live for"

This image is called The Mask and The Reality. The next unexpected suicide may be someone on your department or even your partner and he/she is keeping their struggle so well hidden that it will shock everyone when they take their life. These are the ones I worry about, the ones that feel there's no help for them or that they are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit they need help. They live everyday in a struggle, pretending everything is okay and hiding their true pain from everyone...until they can't hide it any longer and believe taking their life is the only option they have.

If you're looking at this image and reading this post and can relate to what I'm saying then believe me you're not alone. There are ways to get help where nobody else will know. There is a way out. Here are some of your options, please choose one:

Frontline Helpline – 1-866-676-7500 Run by Frontline Responder Services. Offer 24/7 coverage with first responder call-takers.

OSILink – 1-844-951-4163 A Canada-wide, toll-free, confidential support line for first responders and their families

Blue Light Programme UK – A program run by the UK organization Mind. They provide mental health education and support to emergency services staff in England.

Sirens of Silence Australia – Sirens of Silence is a charity in West Australia that was founded in 2015 after a surge in the number of suicides within the Ambulance Service in W.A. They raise awareness, and provide education and support for all emergency services.

Stay safe everyone and lets watch out for each other. DanSun


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

The OR


Here’s a recent set of images I created for OR nurses and doctors. I never really thought of the pressures these people are under. We sometimes joke how nice it must be to work in such a prepared and sterile environment versus a dirty ditch or piles of puke and poop. I had the chance to talk with some OR nurses and realized that in some cases, especially emergency surgeries, the pressure is real and as serious as it gets. When you know your patient and weren’t able to save him the pressure and emotions are sometimes unbearable.

This one is for all the nurses and surgeons working in the OR 


DNR? Often I’m called to a home for a very sick patient. The first thing I do in these cases is find and read the do not resuscitate order or advance directives created by the patient. I need to know right away how far we need to go and what we can and can’t do if we need to resuscitate this patient. Sometimes there’s no paperwork but the family states their wishes to us. Other times there is paperwork and the family doesn’t want us to follow it. There’s also times when the family is present and arguing about what we should do. If there’s paperwork for us to follow then it’s easy. What’s difficult for me is when the patient is in an obvious end of life state, there’s no paper work to follow and the family wants us to “full code” their family member…and that’s what we’ll do if there’s no DNR or advanced directives. This happens a lot to emergency workers and hospital staff. If you’re a first responder I’m sure it’s happened to you too.

It’s easy for me to disconnect myself from the situation because I usually don’t know these people. I’ve never seen these really sick patients before, I’ve never met the families so it’s easy for me to think, “It’s their time, just let them go”. After being in this situation so many times I think most of us will think the same way.


We were called to very old man who was dying of a terminal illness. He didn’t have a DNR so if we had to we were going to resuscitating this patient, or at least try to. I began having the “it’s their time, just let them go” thoughts until I saw his wife. This is just another old guy dying for us but for her it’s her husband of 78 years. I noticed all the pictures on the walls of their lives together. Their kids, grand kids and great grandkids, their travels and struggles together. I saw a photo of them together when they were very young, a picture taken 30 years before I was born. This couple had a long life together and it was coming to an end. I could see the love and sadness in her eyes as she held her husband’s hand wishing he wouldn’t leave her. It was super sad and I, at that moment, understood why she didn’t have a DNR created. Remove the emotion and it’s clear to me that this patient should have had a DNR but add 94 years of a loving life together and that decision isn’t so easy. I can’t get too empathetic with my patients otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do my job but I think the next time I’m in this situation I’m going to turn my empathy up a couple notches.

The Devils in the Box

Sometimes on my way to work I get anxiety from the calls that will come that day. It’s funny because I never used to feel that way. I’ve been a paramedic for 15 years and now I get anxiety? For the first 2 years as a new medic I crapped my pants every time the tones went off, then for the next 10 years I had all the confidence in the world. Now I feel my confidence slipping, why? I know it’s all in my head, I have no issues actually running calls. Maybe the anxiety is from something else, it comes and goes but when it’s there it’s just terrible. Maybe my devils in the box are just starting to overflow.

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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