"...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
"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
"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'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
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.
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.
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.