Emergency workers witness unimaginable circumstances that push the boundaries of personal care and mental health. Tragedies happen and sometimes the point of no return in stability vanishes beyond the continued, grueling work emergency professionals face on a day-to-day basis. Fortunately, Daniel Sundahl, who is a paramedic, firefighter, artist and public speaker, creates a community of support for those who feel anger, shame, fear and more in the lingering past or uncertainty for the future of the harsh realities in the public safety sector. Through DanSun Photo Art, his creativity and expression through art helps others cope what they cannot put into words when dealing with difficulties of the public safety realm. His work reflects a true look into the world of emergency services.
Currently residing in Alberta, Canada, Daniel Sundahl works at Leduc Fire Services as a paramedic and firefighter with 17 years of experience in the industry since 1996. His passion for EMS and fire stems from being a dive master in the Cayman Islands, in which part of the training involved medic training for rescue divers. This soon led him to providing care as a street medic.
Sundahl says. “For many of us, living in the EMS world is living life to the fullest; the biggest show on earth. It is a special calling, in which it is rewarding to be able to make a difference in our environment.”
At first, his photo art started as a hobby with a beginner’s focus on dogs and landscapes but quickly transformed into a narrative for emergency workers to cope and connect on a raw level of therapeutic means for himself and others. His photos depict real calls that he has tended to over his career as a full-time paramedic and firefighter. Now, many peers reflect on the photos to attach their own experiences in order to create a sense of community in the industry. One of the largest takeaways for his art advocates with a personal mantra, “let’s look out for each other.”
In continuing to look out for emergency workers, Daniel Sundahl travels the world in order to advocate for mental health and PTSD awareness by public speaking engagements. Past travels included throughout the U.S., Canada, Poland, Guatemala, Australia, Finland and England.
Sundahl creates an international community of mental health support while upholding his duties as the President of the Peer Recovery and Resiliency Symposium. The organization’s goal is to bring together survivors of mental injuries who have thrived in the post-traumatic growth and to share their stories of triumphs to those who may be struggling still. It creates an open forum for mental health support, recovery and resiliency for emergency workers.
Sundahl says, “For the longest time I didn’t realize I developed a mental stress injury and there was shame and guilt that came along with it. The biggest message is to seek help and recognize the signs and symptoms. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Sundahl’s expansive compassion helps to create an honest discussion of support while uplifting others in the betterment of mental health for emergency workers. His artworks speaks volumes to vulnerable emotions and relatable internal struggles that other people cannot put into words. As the saying goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words,” but Sundahl’s masterpieces speak a thousand emotions for emergency workers worldwide.