DanSun Photo Art


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"...and that's how a picture is worth a million words!!! Amazing"

- Firefighter, Houston


Portraits of an Emergency - Chapter 2 Art Book


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"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

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Emergency Response Portraits


"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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Edits I've done to your Images


"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


Department Images


Things on Wheels


"This brought tears to my eyes! Your work is beautiful and amazing" - RN, Toronto



DanSun Photoart written

Daniel Sundahl

Artist / Firefighter / Paramedic and Traveller


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.


DanSun

All images © 2011-2018 DanSun PhotoArt



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.


Stigma

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. 



A-Type

What happens when an A-Type personality is confronted with a mental injury? For me it was...

Fear

Confusion Loss of Confidence

Embarrassment

Shame

Sadness

Uncontrolled Emotion

...until I realized what was happening to me and I decided to fix my broken mind.


***SOLD OUT***


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


Downtime in the ER


Sorry

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


Traffic Stop


First Responders


Corrections

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Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to a correctional facility for a photo session. I had the opportunity to talk with some correction officers, nurses, paramedics and correctional service workers. The rules, dynamics, risks, and dangers are quite different here than for the rest of us.


If I need to work a cardiac arrest in a house I usually have the chance to move the patient to an area where we have lots of room to work. That’s not always the case here, the correction officers will line up outside the cell door waiting to be called to perform CPR while the nurses, paramedics and other COs attempt resuscitation. Violent assaults, suicide attempts and drug overdoses are just a few of the emergencies these men and women deal with…and more often than we realize.


It’s a different world with different rules behind these walls and most of us tend to forget or not think about what happens here. When inmates enter the facility the work is just beginning for these men and women. I have tremendous respect for these people who I consider part of the first responder family, it’s a job I could never do.


Stay safe brothers and sisters.

DanSun



The OR

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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?

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.


…until


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.



A Step Sideways

I often hear people say that suicide victims are cowardly and selfish “How could they do that to their families?” I’ve spoken with several first responders on the brink of suicide and I’ve also spoken with family and coworkers of those first responders who have ended their lives. This is what I’ve learned.


In one day I had a paramedic from England and a paramedic from New Jersey email me stating they wished for “the sweet life of suicide”. One of them told me it’s terrifying to contemplate suicide while not wanting to die. “I don’t want to leave my family but I feel there’s no other options for me”. Thankfully these two were reaching out for help but I think many don’t have the mental capacity to even know they’re in trouble. They are bombarded constantly by their demons and it only gets worse when they sleep. They need help but they’re too ashamed to ask for it, they feel they have only one option. I think a big step of getting out of that trap is to realize you’re not alone, don’t be ashamed for how you feel and seek help.


I have also heard from several family members and coworkers of suicide victims. Of this group it’s about 50/50 between anger and understanding. It’s my hope that this post pushes this group closer to understanding. PTSD changes the biology of the brain. After hearing from so many first responders who suffer from PTSD and are contemplating suicide I have no doubt they truly believe they have no other option.


There is a way back from what the military calls ‘a step sideways’. If you are reading this and you feel suicide is your only option then please call one of these numbers to receive the help you need –

USA 1-800- 273-8255

Canada 1-888-288-8036

UK 0300-303-5999

Australia 13 11 14

If you are not from one of these countries and know your national suicide help line then please add the country and number in the comments below.

Have a safe and healthy week everyone.


DanSun




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.

Respectfully,


DanSun 



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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