"...and that's how a picture is worth a million words!!! Amazing"
- Firefighter, Houston
"This is amazing!!Never stop doing such amazing art!!"
- Paramedic, Perth, Australia
"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
"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
"This brought tears to my eyes! Your work is beautiful and amazing" - RN, Toronto
I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada June 19, 1967. 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 try to capture an emotional element in my artwork that goes beyond the image itself.
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. This is how I purge these images from my brain, my artwork is my therapy.Stuff I use for photography: Sony A7R ii, Sony A7R, Sony 16-35mm, Sony 24-70mm, Canon 100mm Macro, Photomatix Pro, Topaz Labs Adjust, Denoise and Sharpen, All the Nik Software stuff, Photoshop CC, Corel Painter X and Lightroom 5.
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 © 2011-2016 DanSun PhotoArt
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
As a firefighter my biggest fear is dying in a burning building. We train how to breach walls and even jump out of windows to self rescue. So far 42 firefighters have died this year in the United States alone. Often a part of our training is to listen to the recordings of these events.
Recently I visited the dispatchers for the Edmonton Fire department. I never thought of what these dispatchers go through during these mayday events. In many communities these dispatchers are friends and family with the emergency workers they work with. They are the ones speaking with fallen police officers and firefighters during their last moments. They may not be on scene but managing communications during these events is crucial to a successful rescue.
This piece is for all the dispatchers who have managed a mayday event while at work. Thank you.
Stay safe brothers and sisters.
The False Okay
For my EMS Sisters
I was sitting in the hallway with my patient waiting for a room in the ER when I overheard some other paramedics talking about some of the people they work with. They were specifically talking about the women in their service and women in general who work in EMS. They were saying how they were too emotional, how they couldn't protect themselves and how they couldn't handle intense calls.
I don't know what experience these guys had working with women but I will tell you some of the smartest, most capable and the best paramedics and EMTs I've ever worked with have been women. My female partners have saved my skin on several occasions and have displayed amazing critical thinking skills on some really scary, high acuity calls we've attended. Women are equal in every way to men in this job, if you think differently then you're just an idiot...in my opinion.
...end of rant...
Stay strong and powerful sisters
- The rate of PTSD in corrections workers is 25.8%. The rate of PTSD in the general public 1.9% - 3.6% (Tema Conter)
- Nearly 80% of corrections employees reported experiencing a traumatic event in the workplace. Moreover, the average number of events personally experienced over six months was almost three per employee. (Tema Conter)
-Corrections officers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at more than double the rate of military veterans in the US, according to Caterina Spinaris, the leading professional in corrections-specific clinical research and founder of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach, a nonprofit based in Colorado.
-The suicide rate among corrections officers is twice as high as that of both police officers and the general public, according to a New Jersey police taskforce. An earlier national study found that corrections officers’ suicide risk was 39% higher than all other professions combined.
-Correctional Officers (CO’s) have the second highest mortality rate of any occupation.
-33.5% of all assaults in prisons and jails are committed by inmates against staff.
- A CO’s 58th birthday, on average, is their last. - A CO will be seriously assaulted at least twice in a 20 year career.
- On average a CO will live only 18 months after retirement.
Sources: “Stress Management for the Professional Correctional Officer”, Donald Steele, Ph.D., Steele Publishing 2001 “Corrections Yearbook 2000, 2002”, Criminal Justice Institute, Middletown, CT “Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 2003”, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 31st edition, NCJ 208756 “Suicide Risk Among Correctional Officers”, Archives of Suicide Research, Stack, S.J., & Tsoudis, O. 1997 Metropolitan Life Actuarial Statistics, 1998 Society of Actuaries, 1994
We recently worked a cardiac arrest where a woman collapsed while enjoying a dinner her husband of 50 years prepared for her. When we arrived he was doing CPR on her in the middle of the kitchen floor while following the instructions given to him on the phone by the dispatcher. Other family members were in the living room in a state of unbelief and worry, they greeted us with such relief. People seem to think when we arrive we’re going to save the day and everything will be okay.
While trying to resuscitate this woman her husband was stepping over us to clear the dinner table and began washing the dishes. I could see in his face that he knew his wife was gone yet he continued on as if it hadn’t happened, he even offered me some dinner while I was trying to locate her vocal chords with my laryngoscope to intubate her. He then started to show us their wedding pictures while we were in the middle of performing CPR, starting a second line and pushing our meds.
The mind is an amazing defence mechanism. This poor man knew what the outcome would be yet he continued on as if this was a regular occurrence in his home. We tried to resuscitate his wife and worked through every protocol we had but it was pointless, it was just her time, her initial rhythm was asystole and it never changed.
I sat him down in another room and explained to him that despite our best efforts his wife was dead, one of the worst parts of my job. Thankfully our Victim Services unit arrived and took over care for the family. We packed up our things, cleaned up our garbage and returned to our station. Just another routine cardiac arrest for us but a life changing and horrific evening for that family and that poor man.
Have a good and safe week everyone. For all of you who will have to tell someone their family member has died this week know that myself and 80% of the people who have seen this post have been there and you’re not alone, we’re with you.
Respectfully your brother,
Where I’m from the average career span for a paramedic is 7 years. At that point we usually move on to something else in a similar field or take advantage of the many doors that have opened up for us. Many of us just quit and move onto something completely different. I’ve been a paramedic for 14 years and looking back on my time I’ve noticed I’ve gone through distinct stages as I’ve moved through the years.
As a new graduate medic I had a huge sense of accomplishment and along with that came an arrogant sense of superiority. That quickly vanished after a few hot calls where I had no idea what to do, this is where I learned to appreciate an experienced EMT partner, they've saved my butt sever times. For the next two years I lived in a state of fear as I cringed every time the tones went off. Eventually by years 3 – 7 I felt comfortable in my responsibilities of being the paramedic on my ambulance.
After year 7 even hot calls became mundane and it seemed nothing could get me excited about my job anymore. As the years went by my ‘know it all’ attitude began being replaced with ‘the more you know the more you realize you don’t know’ mindset. The tragedy and hardship started building up to point where I fear I’m on the doorstep of becoming an old burned out medic.
My question to all the EMT’s and Medics who have over 15 – 20 years under their belt is what happens now? How did you get past the burned out stage of this job. How do you still recognize the fun and excitement after doing this for so many years? I would really like to know.
Have a safe week everyone.
End of Watch 132
132 police officers in Canada and the United States gave their lives while protecting their communities in 2015. This art piece is for the fallen and their families who have also sacrificed in their loss. Stay safe my brothers and sisters in blue.
The Alternate Exit
Not many people get to see the damage a 12 guage shotgun can do to a human head. Police, EMS, fire, military and the coroner are the only ones I can think of. I guess there are the crazy people who do this to others but this isn’t about those murderers. These patients rarely even make it to the ER for the doctors and nurses to treat unless they’re still alive and that’s even scarier.
I work is a small community with a large population of senior citizens. I’ve done my share of suicide calls but over half of them have been in this age group. Everything from drowning themselves in buckets of water, overdosing on their pills and most recently a shotgun to the face. I’ve lived in countries where the elders are cared for by their families, they die in their own bed in the family home surrounded by their children. I wonder what the suicide rates are of the older populations in those countries.
My paramedic brothers and sisters will know what it’s like to walk through a senior’s home pushing a stretcher. It’s like being a fox in the hen house. I’m sure most of them know it will be us to take them away from their home and friends possibly never to return. I guess many just choose the alternate exit of suicide.
Stay safe everyone and happy New Year.
Just before I created this piece I checked how many firefighters had died in the line of duty in the United States and Canada this year. I'm sad to say it's 81, 78 in USA and 3 in Canada. It's hard to get an accurate number, I decided on 81 after looking at several sights and I went with the most common numbers. Please comment if these figures are not accurate. This one is for the 81 Fallen and their families who will be spending the holiday season for the first time without them. Stay safe brothers and sisters.
Christopher A. Tindall South Metropolitan Fire Protection District Raymore, Missouri Jan 8, 2015 Franck W. Tremaine Jackson Fire Department Jackson, California Jan 10, 2015 Leslie “Les” W. Fryman Rosendale Volunteer Fire Department Rosendale, Wisconsin Jan 21, 2015 Ronnie W. Peek Garden City Fire Department Garden City, Kansas Jan 22, 2015 Clifford “Cliff” Sanders Caney Volunteer Fire Department Caney, Kansas Jan 29, 2015 Mike “Coop” Cooper Centerville Fire Department Centerville, Iowa Jan 31, 2015 Charlie V. Wallace Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department Montgomery, New York Feb 3, 2015 Kenneth Lehr Medora Community Fire Protection District Medora, Illinois Feb 5, 2015 Garry Rose McMechen Volunteer Fire Department McMechen, West Virginia Feb 6, 2015 Randy Parker Macon-Bibb County Fire Department Macon, Georgia Feb 11, 2015 Kenneth M. Stanton Sandy Springs Fire Department Pendleton, South Carolina Feb 15, 2015 Randy Hiti Rice Lake Fire Department Duluth, Minnesota Feb 18, 2015 Dwight W. Bazile Houston Fire Department Houston, Texas Feb 21, 2015 Edward J. Roddy Somerset Volunteer Fire Department Somerset, Pennsylvania Feb 22, 2015 Jerold “Jerry” Bonner CAL FIRE Sacramento, California Mar 6, 2015 Gallant, Mike Captain Miscouche, Prince Edward Island (PEI) 2015 - May 14 Smyth, Brian Firefighter Columbia Valley, British Columbia (BC) 2015 - March 7 Crawford, William D. Firefighter Toronto, Ontario (ON) 2015 - March 2Jeffrey S. Buck Lawrence Township Volunteer Fire Company #1 - Clearfield County Station #5 Clearfield, Pennsylvania Mar 9, 2015 Billy R. Jarvis Allen Fire Department Allen, Kentucky Mar 10, 2015 John L. Shout Ashland Volunteer Fire Department Ashland, Mississippi Mar 15, 2015 Daryl Gordon Cincinnati Fire Department Cincinnati, Ohio Mar 26, 2015 Barry Van Horn Somerville Fire Department - West End Hose Company #3 Somerville, New Jersey Mar 27, 2015 Steve Cobb United States Forest Service - National Forests in Mississippi Jackson, Mississippi Mar 30, 2015 Brandon Ricks United States Forest Service - National Forests in Mississippi Jackson, Mississippi Mar 30, 2015 John J. Doster Edgely Fire Company #1, Inc. Levittown, Pennsylvania Apr 2, 2015 Steven Ackerman Valley Springs Fire & Rescue Valley Springs, South Dakota Apr 12, 2015 Raymond Araujo CAL FIRE Sacramento, California Apr 13, 2015 Andrew “Andy” Zalme Dakota City Fire Department Dakota City, Nebraska Apr 16, 2015 Curtis E. Nordsick Wrightsville Steam Engine & Hose Company #1 Wrightsville, Pennsylvania Apr 19, 2015 Mike Corn Conway Springs Fire Department Conway Springs, Kansas Apr 27, 2015 Timothy T. Peters Pine Grove Hose, Hook and Ladder Fire Co. No. 1 Pine Grove, Pennsylvania Apr 30, 2015 Christopher M. Blankenship Madison County Fire Department Jackson, Tennessee May 3, 2015 Larry W. Lawhorn Orchard Farm Fire Protection District St. Charles, Missouri May 3, 2015 Ricky Thurman Swainsboro Fire Department Swainsboro, Georgia May 4, 2015 Timothy Gunther Poughkeepsie Fire Department Poughkeepsie, New York May 5, 2015 Dwight Greer Philadelphia Fire Department Philadelphia, Mississippi May 6, 2015 Kevin McRae Washington DC Fire Department Washington, District of Columbia May 6, 2015 David Bourget Phippsburg Fire Department Phippsburg, Maine May 23, 2015 Jason Farley Claremore Fire Department Claremore, Oklahoma May 24, 2015 Terrance M. Pryor Memphis Fire Department Memphis, Tennessee May 25, 2015 Dale J. Wege Pine Lake Volunteer Fire Department Rhinelander, Wisconsin Jun 1, 2015 James “Donnie” D. Keith Mount Zion Fire & Rescue Jasper, Alabama Jun 3, 2015 Thomas. D. Miserendino Beachwood Vol. Fire Company #1 Beachwood, New Jersey Jun 4, 2015 David Knapke Williamsburg Township Emergency Services Williamsburg, Ohio Jun 5, 2015 Ian Haxton Student Conservation Association - Veteran Fire Corps Arlington, Virginia Jun 6, 2015 Wille O. Sensenich North Huntingdon Township Circleville Volunteer Fire Department Station #8 North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania Jun 9, 2015 Terry K. Sonner Boise District Bureau of Land Management Boise, Idaho Jun 10, 2015 Michael P. Miller Green Bay Metro Fire Department Green Bay, Wisconsin Jun 20, 2015 John Whelan Denver Fire Department Denver, Colorado Jul 15, 2015 Tyron Weston Columbia Fire Department Columbia, South Carolina Jul 26, 2015 James A. Hicks North Carolina Air National Guard Fire and Emergency Services Charlotte, North Carolina Jul 27, 2015 David “Dave” Ruhl Big Valley Ranger District of the Modoc National Forest Alturas, California Jul 30, 2015 Michael “Mike” Hallenbeck U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit South Lake Tahoe, California Aug 8, 2015 James “JD” D. Robinson Brasstown Fire Department West Brasstown, North Carolina Aug 14, 2015 Christopher J. Daniels Pine Level Volunteer Fire Department Pine Level, North Carolina Aug 17, 2015 Richard Wheeler Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Wenatchee, Washington Aug 19, 2015 Andrew Zajac Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Wenatchee, Washington Aug 19, 2015 Tom Zbyszewski Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Wenatchee, Washington Aug 19, 2015 Lawrence G. Sesso Sayville Fire Department Sayville, New York Aug 22, 2015 Chris Phillips Locke Township Fire Department Salisbury, North Carolina Aug 27, 2015 Shane Clifton Saint Paul Fire Department Saint Paul, Minnesota Aug 31, 2015 Dennis Rodeman Lansing Fire Department Lansing, Michigan Sep 9, 2015 Daniel E. Hampton Burnet Fire Department Burnet, Texas Sep 18, 2015 Sean M. Benson Paramus Fire Department Paramus, New Jersey Sep 23, 2015 Barry Miller Bergen Fire Department Bergen, New York Sep 23, 2015 Stuart Hardy Burton Fire District Beaufort, South Carolina Sep 24, 2015 Richard L. Crosby Casnovia Township Fire Department Bailey, Michigan Sep 26, 2015 Antonio Smith Memphis Fire Department Memphis, Tennessee Oct 7, 2015 Larry J. Leggio Kansas City (Missouri) Fire Department Kansas City, Missouri Oct 12, 2015 John V. Mesh Kansas City (Missouri) Fire Department Kansas City, Missouri Oct 12, 2015 Charles “Chuck” Horning Townsend Township Fire Department Collins, Ohio Oct 13, 2015 Gerald “Bear” Celecki South Amboy Fire Department South Amboy, New Jersey Oct 14, 2015 Larry O'Neil Lone Camp Fire Department Palo Pinto, Texas Oct 25, 2015 Thomas J. Kolarick Protection Fire Company #1 Keasbey, New Jersey Nov 11, 2015 Vince Smith City of Detroit Fire Department Detroit, Michigan Nov 19, 2015 Walter Szelag City of Detroit Fire Department Detroit, Michigan Nov 20, 2015 Terry “TC” Culver Calvert City Fire Department Calvert City, Kentucky Nov 24, 2015 Scott Carroll City of Oxnard Fire Department Oxnard, California Nov 30, 2015 Mark Zielinski Matteson Fire Department Matteson, Illinois Dec 4, 2015 Zachary C. Clevenger Estill County Fire Department Irvine, Kentucky Dec 5, 2015
Behind the Scenes - Can you see them?
I recently was transporting a patient who was dying. She was in her 90s and it was just her time, I think it was her kidneys that finally failed her. The reason I will never forget her is because of how she behaved. Every once and awhile a smile would spread across her face and she would stare behind me, as she reached up toward her gaze she would sigh as if the world was lifted off her shoulders. Then suddenly she would return to her present situation, her face became sunken and foggy. This happened several times during my time with her, I asked her who she was reaching for and she told me it was her husband who had died 50 years earlier, he was there waiting for her.
I immediately chalked it up to all the meds she was on and so did everyone else. Whatever it was, the change on her face when this happened was a transformation I will never forget. As first responders we're front and centre in the biggest show there is. Most people only get to be in it once and it's usually at the end of their life, we get to be in it all the time. I wonder what's going on behind the scenes if anything. That was my motivation for this piece.
There's a lot going on in this image. I'm curious to see what your interpretation will be.
Portraits of an Emergency - Art Book
Portraits of an Emergency
This art book is a collection of images created by firefighter, paramedic, and artist Daniel Sundahl. The creation of these images provides a rare insight to the mental toll faced in the world of emergency services. Many of these images originate from real emergencies attended by the artist, and help serve as a creative outlet in processing the terrible scenes he has witnessed. Book design is by the artist with emphasis on a visual experience for the reader.
DanSun Photo Art Scholarship Fund
A portion of the proceeds from this book will be used to create a scholarship fund to help send people to the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation's annual congress. At this congress the attendees will attend presentations on critical incident stress management and learn ways to best deal with these events for themselves and their fellow coworkers.
We are really lucky where I work to have a supportive Chief. If we have a rough call we're off for the rest of the shift and we are debriefed by people trained to deal with stress management for people like us. I feel my mental health is important to my employers.
The same can't be said for many other organizations. One paramedic was told there would be dire consequences if he or any other paramedic in this large city had work done by me. I have been banned by this city because they feel my art work would portray their service in a negative way. Get your head out of the sand people, my artwork has nothing to do with it. Your staff are killing themselves at alarming rates because they're not getting the help they need. Hiding from the problem isn't going to make it go away. There's more important things then unit utilization times and billing.
This has inspired me to start a scholarship with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. This organization has several training events where first responders can learn more about critical stress and how to deal with it. I'll be funding this scholarship from the sales of my upcoming art book. I'm hoping this scholarship will allow first responders from these close minded employers to attend these sessions, all expenses paid, so they can get the help they need and pass it along to their crew mates. I'm glad I've been banned from this city, because of it I continue to do artwork for my brothers and sisters there for free and it has lead me to create this scholarship. PTSD and mental health problems are not going away, closed minded services will just make it worse.
This image isn't from the city I'm banned from. This scene is from a community close to where I live, they are very supportive of my work.
Stay safe brothers and sisters DanSun
Bodybag Some of things we have to do as Paramedics is pretty crazy. Sometimes the treatment is more disturbing than the actual accident. Drilling an IO into a leg to get access, cutting a throat to place an airway or sticking the chest deep with needles to decompress air are just a few of things I’m sure medics of the future will think are barbaric.
Doing CPR with your hands in a pool of blood because no matter how much you suction, blood just keeps coming out of the ET tube and spilling everywhere. It’s weird to do that to another body, in my experience most of these cases don’t have a happy ending…so why do it? Why put myself through that? I guess there is a chance it could help. I wonder how many of us are haunted by the futile and invasive treatments we’ve provided to already lifeless corpses.
Stay safe everyone. DanSun
I’ve been in a few scary situations while working. Almost getting hit by a truck on the highway, getting caught in a house fire, flipping the ambulance and dealing with really dangerous patients. I’ve often wondered if I was just lucky or if I had someone or something looking out for me. St. Michael is the Patron Saint for police officers and St. Florian is the Patron Saint for firefighters. Even accountants have St. Matthew to look out for them. Some believe it’s relatives who have passed looking out for them or some feel it is just luck. Which ever you believe there’s no doubt that many first responders have wondered how they survived certain situations. I would love to hear your story and what or who you believe is looking out for you.
Stay safe brothers and sisters.
About a week ago I went for a “routine” procedure. When I arrived at the specialist’s office I followed my directions, I stripped naked from the waist down, laid on the table and left my baby maker out in the open for the world to see. I wasn’t uncomfortable with the procedure until this very moment. About 10 minutes later 2 women entered, the one who was going to perform the procedure was a student. For the next 30 min I was handled, squeezed and examined. All of a sudden this routine procedure turned very invasive.
I started thinking of all the times I’ve had patients in the back of my ambulance whom I started 12 leads, IVs or intubated, all routine procedures. When most of us go to work we’re going to start more IVs than people will have cups of coffee that day. My point is what seems routine to us may be a terrifying experience for our patients. I think it’s important to maintain a level of compassion for our patients. It may be the 5th IV you’ve started that day but the first ever for your patient.
I’ve been wanting to do a Flight Nurse and Medic piece for a long time and this image illustrates my point very well. Imagine on top of the IV, 12 lead, medications and the initial injury or medical condition you will now be flying in a helicopter or small plane. Flying alone can be terrifying for many people.
Thank you everyone for your continued support. Be safe and take care of each other.
When the call is over I'm usually pretty wired, especially if we had a save. It's disheartening to walk back to the truck after your paperwork and handoff report is done and have to look at this. The part that hits me is once we get this all cleaned up we may be doing it again right away...or we may be going for a routine, non emerge transfer.
I love this job, I know in many of my pieces I'm showing the sadder or more negative sides but I do that to raise PTSD and mental health awareness. As dreary as this image looks I get excited looking at it. What bigger rush is there than to be trying to save a life.
Stay safe everyone.