Healing images

Long-time paramedic Daniel Sundahl of Dansun Photos speaks to more than 50 attendees during a PTSD/OSI awareness conference at the Prince Albert Travelodge on Saturday, Oct. 22. © Herald photo by Jason Kerr.

Edmonton paramedic uses art to close old wounds

Daniel Sundahl thought he could save everyone when he first became a paramedic.

He soon realized that he couldn’t.

Sundahl, who’s based out of Edmonton, learned there’s only so much a paramedic can do during more than 15 years on the job, and that discovery took its toll.

“For me, after five years of being a paramedic, I started to see how things really happened,” he said.

Sundahl said it was a “tough realization” and it helped kick start a wave of negative affects. He became easily irritated at work and increasingly apathetic away from it. He became overly anxious every time he heard a siren and started having nightmares.

Eventually, it got to the point where he started thinking about his own death. He didn’t want to die, but he didn’t really want to live either. Then came the thoughts of suicide.

It was roughly four years ago when he realized he needed help.

“I had the symptoms for quite a while,” he explained. “Before that I just didn’t realize that it was a work related injury. I didn’t know.”

Sundahl had experienced numerous traumatic events during his career as a paramedic, but wasn’t sure where to turn for help. Post-traumatic stress disorder wasn’t something that was openly talked about in the profession.

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