DanSun PhotoArt

This week I had my first “international” guest. Daniel’s a 20 year firefighter paramedic from Western He’s also the artist and creative genius behind DanSun Photos. Daniel was diagnosed with PTs in 2014 and his art gave him an outlet to express feelings and emotions associated with PTs. 

Along the way he decided to share his art and was surprised and heartened by the reaction. We spend an hour or so talking about life and a few pieces of his art that stood out to me. I’ve linked the five pieces we discuss in the show notes. You can find them at thethingsweallcarry.com/blog.

Burning Candle
Standing On the Shoulders Of the Fallen

Stack: Welcome to another episode of the things we all carry. This week, I had my first international guest. Daniel’s a 20 year firefighter paramedic from Western He’s also the artist and creative genius behind Dan sun photo Daniel was diagnosed with PTs in 2014 and his art gave him an outlet to express feelings and emotions associated with PTs.

Along the way he decided to share his art and was surprised and heartened by the reaction. We spend an hour or so talking about life and a few pieces of his art that stood out to me. I’ve linked the five pieces we discuss in the show notes. You can find them at thethingsweallcarry.com/blog. A quick reminder to please help us build a community which not only recognizes, but supports each other through the struggles in recovery.

Reach out through Instagram at the things we Or email. My story@thethingsweallcarry.com. Offer support and share your story. Please remember to leave a review on iTunes and give a shout out to any first responders, you know, love or care about. Y’all enjoy the show. Make sure that we’re picking up and looks like we are. Okay. So if you’re ready, I’ll get that introduction going and we can start talking. Good? Yep. All right. So joining me today is Daniel. He’s an artist that I found on Instagram and he is his art has an impact on myself and many first responders, cuz I had people send it to me and say, Hey, you gotta talk to this guy.

He, you can find him on Instagram under Danson photo art, and I’m going to let him tell you more places he can find you. But just so you guys know, he’s a 20 year vet firefighter and paramedic. He’s getting ready to retire, which is, first of all, congratulations for that. And like I said, I’ll let him tell you where he can, where you can find him, and then we’ll get into some of his family life and professional life.

How you doing Daniel?

DanSun: I’m doing great. Thanks. Thanks for being on. Thanks. Oh, thanks for having me on your show.

Stack: Tell people where they can find you and what your history is.

DanSun: All right. You can find me under dance on photos.com is my main website, but I think if you just Google Danon which is actually the first three letters of my first time, last name is how I came up with that.

I’ll pop up the first couple hits there, I think so ended up finding me there. But dance on photos.com is my main website and then for letters, links on my social media. And yeah, I’m a paramedic firefighter. I’ve been doing it full time for about 20 years just about ready to retire and I create the artwork as a result of my therapy after being diagnosed with PT the first time in 2014.

And then now I’m going to be changing my careers. I’m actually in school right now actually taking a two year program to become a counseling therapist. Oh, awesome. Specializing in literacy services.

Stack: Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, we definitely need more of that. I think one of the major complaints we hear is, Oh, I can’t talk to people that don’t know what I’ve been through.

So if someone that’s been a 20 year vet and then going through a counseling program is perfect.

DanSun: Yeah. There’s lots to be said. I think lots of what you’re going at route, which is great. I think that’s valuable resource from my own experience and I’ve had great luck what’s most of my therapists because they’ve had experience working with the emergency workers before.

But if they don’t, then even just getting past vocabulary and the lingo could be a challenge now. That’s something you don’t want on top of all the other things you’re trying to

Stack: deal with. Yeah, it’s very true. We do have our own vernacular and having to explain what you’re saying to somebody when you’re trying to explain what you’re thinking to begin with is difficult.


DanSun: That’s for sure.

Stack: So where were you brought up? What’s family life like for you?

DanSun: Yeah, so I’m a Canadian. I’m in Western Canada near the Rocky Mountains. Oh, beautiful. Born and raised here. And shortly after high school I decided to travel. So I lived in several countries around the world. I really lived my life mostly along the equator and had some amazing experiences doing that.

I worked as an English teacher, a second language, did that for several years in Egypt. I lived in Japan. Kevin Allens lived in Indonesia. So that really gave me a lot of experience and really widened my concepts of what the world was like after living in all these different countries. And now I’m very lucky as an artist, I get to quite a bit all around the world as well as an artist exhibiting my work.

So I’m very lucky that I’ve had a lot of opportunity to get to travel in my life.

Stack: How do you think that, What kind of lessons do you learn from travel?

DanSun: I think it really changes your perspective. It did for me. So for me it was when I would live in different country and see how other people live and that was good.

A good teacher for me. Both good and bad. I try to adapt some of the wonderful things that I saw other cultures do and try to emulate that and then not also be very grateful for some of the places I’ve been. Feel very lucky that where I lived, it wasn’t like that. So it was very eye opening for me and really broadened my horizons and I don’t know, I think everyone should do a bit more traveling.

I think that’s what I start to describe, but it’s, it really widened my views on relationships and on life and on people, and I think it really molded who I am as a person. I did a lot of my traveling in my late, started on my early twenties actually, and traveled for 10, 15 years. So I really molded me to really change my character, I think for the better.


Stack: Who don’t? I was gonna, I was gonna add that coming from an American point of view, that many of the people I talk to who haven’t traveled are so insular and they don’t know, or not that they don’t know, they just don’t realize that there’s such value to other cultures.

DanSun: Okay. I think so.

Stack: And it’s so important to learn that, and especially as first responders, or how many cultures do we interact with on a daily basis.


DanSun: That’s for sure. Yeah, that’s true. So you mentioned Yeah, I think I have a better understanding cause I think we tend to, the default to that’s not, we don’t know enough familiar with it. I think most peoples default is not accepting it or refuting it in some way. Versus accepting it. So for many years, for 10 15, I was the boner, I was the odd one in the group living in Japan as a big bald guy that I did not fit in at all there.

I didn’t even fit in, like on the trains. And go to the bathroom. Like I just didn’t fit anywhere cuz I was so much bigger than everyone out there. But that was a wonderful experience. I loved Japan. Japan was one of my favorite countries that I lived in for the culture and the history that they have is just really incredible and rich.

And I really enjoyed my time. And of course the people, the part that I enjoyed most of about traveling is really getting to know the people there. And some ways they’re not as different as like most of us would think, but they are different in my experiences in wonderful ways, which was very enriching for me.

Stack: It’s funny that you mentioned Japan as one of the best or one of the places you enjoyed the most. I was talking to a friend the other day that, that Japan or even Vietnam would be one of those spots that I wanna visit. And I think it’s because you can’t hide.

DanSun: Yeah. , you d you, you stand a pretty big as, especially like for me, I’m a I, my heritage is I’m Danish.

And Crane. So I’m a big bald, pale, pasty white guy and I just did not fit in Japan, in an Egypt. And I really stood out. But when I was there I was very well accepted and every place that I went to, people were very curious about me and they were very welcoming and they were very, I never felt shunned.

I never felt discriminated against. And being in those culture, I always felt more of a curiosity than anything.

Stack: It’s a great start to a, to an adult life though, cuz it’s a lesson learned to, to treat people that way instead of as a lot of people do as strangers.

DanSun: Yeah, I think so. Works. I think that’s a good, really set a lot of like date standards for me continuing on my life.

I think that’s been, travel I think has been one of my biggest teachers.

Stack: So then you do 20 years, you’re in a tail end of a 20 year career as a firefighter paramedic.

DanSun: Yeah, that’s right. So I decided after traveling and I became hit 30 I should probably stop traveling and get a real job. And actually before I started traveling, I did go to school and became, I got my EMT license.

So I went to school and I got my EMT basic. And right after that is when I started traveling. So then I traveled for several years and then I came back the lung to continue doing that. Went back to school, became an advanced care paramedic. Graduated back at 35 and now I’m 55. And I did that straight for 20 years.

And that is another, the reason I wanted to become a, an emergency worker. It’s, I really wanted to live life on the edge, which I felt I was doing anyway. Through traveling. I was really experiencing a full enrich life and I wanted to continue that. And I thought that would be a great way to do that.

And it certainly didn’t disappoint after being a paramedic firefighter for 20 years, I certainly. Saw lots of things that most people’s don’t outside of that profession. So it really didn’t disappoint my expectation of living a full life, living on the pre edge of life, and it’s been wonderful overall.


Stack: You do mention PTs, a diagnosis of PTs and you said 2014, if I heard you correctly. Yeah, so

DanSun: 2014 is the first time, and that’s when I started creating an work. So the artwork is a result of my therapy. So I started having these symptoms and I didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t know that I had post traumatic stress.

I didn’t happen to me the way I thought it would normally happen of what my knowledge of it. I always thought that it was near normal. Then you have that one call and then after that one call, then you’re essentially impaired from that experience, that one experience. But for me, it was a gradual onslaught of all these traumatic calls that eventually started to change my personality and started to change who I was.

And I didn’t recognize that happening. So once I, once it was brought to my attention that was happening, then I was diagnosed and I got assessed and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress. And part of my therapy through the suggestion of my therapist was to create this artwork. At the time, I was doing pictures of landscape and animals and that same kind of style or some kind of look, and my psychologist said why don’t you use your hobby as a way to process and.

Emotions and feeling you’re having. And I thought, that’s a horrible, why would I want, why would I want to, I’m trying to forget that stuff. The reason I’m here is I want you to give me a pill so that I don’t have to worry about that stuff. I want you to turn it off. Yeah. Don’t let me feel that. Yeah. He goes, It doesn’t look that way.

I’m like, Oh. So he said, I like, I don’t why I’m trying to sweep this under the rug. I don’t wanna concentrate on it, but he was right. So all, a lot of the outlook that I do even now is a result of trying to purge these feelings and emotions that keep prompting me. So I don’t really, I don’t cen the outlook.

I don’t, when it’s for therapeutic value for me, I don’t think what other people are gonna, how people are gonna react. I don’t, it has to be authentic in order for it to be therapeutic for me. So it starts off as an, I described it like this, I described it as a, as an organic monster that lives in my mind that invades my consciousness uninvited.

I would describe those feelings and emotions. They weren’t necessarily flashbacks, but they were just these feelings and emotions that just Z into my mind. And once I would purge them through the, through work, that wouldn’t happen. It’s like I trapped them into this two dimensional picture. And how that approach that works is, I’ll think about that emotion and then an image of how I can portray that complex idea in an image pops into my head.

And then I try to recreate what image popped into my head through staging it. So I stage it with my peers, I photograph it, and then I digitally draw and paint. On top of that photograph. And when I’m doing that, I’m trying to recreate not so much what I saw, what that call represents visually, it’s more what that call represents emotionally.

So I’m trying to recreate how I felt through Photoshop and digital painting. And that’s when I deeming representing trauma and angels. Representing what hub I put ghost. There representing my patients and the GLI representing death. So my psychologist was right. It was a very cathartic and therapeutic process for me to really, essentially what I was doing is I was processing these calls, these emotions, so that they wouldn’t popped in my head anymore.

And she was right. So it never my intention to share them either with anybody. Cuz the first thing that I did, they showed firefighter and paramedics in the vulnerable state with glove hands on their head. And that’s not something that I wanted to share because we’re supposed to be these infallible heroes, right?

And I didn’t want to share that with my friend, thinking that they would really crucify me. Hey, damn, what’s wrong with you? What do you, We’re not like this at all. So I didn’t, for a long time, I didn’t share they all for a really long time, but it was still very therapeutic for me. So I continued to do that.

But then when I did decide, that’s when I realized that other firefighters and emergency workers would look at, they’re all looking, attach their own experience to it. And they would have different meaning to them, which made me feel like I’m not alone, which was very therapeutic. Probably one of the biggest parts of my recovery was that knowing that I wasn’t alone in feeling that.

And that’s why I think your podcast is so great cuz everyone is coming on and sharing their experience is and other, it’s gonna make people realize that hey it’s okay. The secret is to acknowledge it, get treatment for it so you can get better and you can get better. Yeah. And

Stack: That’s just similar to my own therapy because I, one of the things brought to my attention, which was not a surprise to me, but it still needed to be brought to my attention, was that I internalize everything and I’m not, I wasn’t talking to anybody about it.

And so what I’ve been doing is I’ve added the writing to my repertoire of just when I feel these fe, when I feel these emotions welling up, it’s time to. and what I need to get better at is writing before the emotions start to boil up. And so that’s a learning process for me. But it’s along the same lines as what you’re saying with your art.

It’s just a way to, to regurgitate it and get it out there and process it.

DanSun: Yeah, I think for me it, and writing, is also very creative. It’s accessing a different part of the brain that really isn’t involved in the other parts of my traumatic life. By focus on that one part, and that, I think really, I dunno, I’m not a brain neurologist, brain mapping guy, but I, for me, if I could focus on that one separate part of my brain, which I do, I create the artwork, really seek to help.

So I, I really do, I encourage others to do something creative and you don’t have to be good at it. Now I hear often people saying I gotta wish I can draw. I can’t draw a thick man. You don’t really have to be good at it. It’s accessing. that creative could be wood carving, it could be lots of different things.

It’s just something different. A lot of rrp, they go hunting. They’re, they do a lot of exercise. They do. There’s lots of different things that people do that help folks filter out. I think

Stack: trauma that we have, I think that’s a great creativity is creativity. It’s just because my creativity isn’t your photo art.

It’s still my creativity and it’s still my way of processing it.

DanSun: Yeah. I play guitar two and I’m not very good , so people don’t invite me on their podcast to talk about my guitar playing, but it’s still very therapeutic for me and I do it every day cuz it accesses that same part of my brain. So it’s still very valuable to me that I have that resource.

I, You don’t really have to, I don’t think you have to be, You just have to act with that part of your brain, I think, and really what is good at anything, I guess it’s, yeah. It’s such a subjective I the bubble, right? Yeah.

Stack: So you said, 2014 was the initial time you were diagnosed with ptsd, and what happens the next time?

When was the next time for that? Yeah, so

DanSun: I had first diagnosed in 2014 and I started doing the artwork, which is really good. But then over time, the symptoms started to creep back up on me and I, the difference that time was that I really recognized, I knew what the symptoms were this time, but I had some really new severe symptoms like hallucinations and memory law, things that my wiring, somehow it came back and hit me and in a different way.

And so I went back to my psychologist and for some reason I had to get, go through the whole testing again, which wasn’t great, but then I’ll confirm that I had ptsd, then I started the treatment again. But yeah, I didn’t realize that would, and I don’t know if it was. Again, I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a brain guy.

But yeah, I really came back seven years later and little keeps in the nap, which is why I really, I’m leaving a service actually. Cause I, I need to do something else. I guess my bucket is full. Yeah. Spill over it. Maybe you, it was just, maybe it was just about, okay, you’ve done your share. 20 years is a long time doing this work and I think bang was just my time was up.


Stack: is a long time and I’ve recently had that discussion with a couple of people about what is enough, our bodies equipped to deal with this job for 20 to 30 years. And I firmly, I don’t believe it. I don’t think we are. I think that some people can successfully do it and come out just fine. But it just depends on what your experience is within those years actually.

That’s right. And how prepared you were to deal with that. And I think that it’s that preparation part that we need to work on for newer guys coming into the fire service, new, newer guys and gals coming into the fire service because if we can prepare them and we can let them know, hey, it’s okay to, or not okay.

It’s necessary to talk. then I think that length lengthens the healthy part of your career. Yeah, I

DanSun: totally agree. Yeah. It’s more, it’s normalizing. I try to, what I see, either what they’re doing in Australia and England and other parts of the world, but they’re really normalizing the mental injury, how, and equalizing it with the physical injury where no one thinks you’re weak because you broke your femur because you fell through a floor and a fire.

No one’s gonna think, Oh, you maybe should do this job cuz you broke your femur, but for some reason through a traumatic experience. So you break your mind for some reason. That’s not very, you’re not strong enough, which is weird. So I think that what other parts the world are doing is they’re trying to equalize mental and physical injury mindsets and which.

Eventually decrease that stigma.

Stack: I think what you said there is key. It’s the mental injury. And I think we need to reframe that completely in every fire department. It needs to be discussed as a mental injury. Yeah.

DanSun: Cause that’s what I think. And you could have two firefighters fall through the floor and one of them might break their leg, but that other firefighter’s gonna say I didn’t break my leg.

Why did you break your leg? What’s wrong with you? You shouldn’t be a firefighter. No one would ever say ridiculous. So for some reason you can have two firefighters do a call. Okay man, I don’t know why you’re so upset about this call. I’m not upset. Some reason they’re not. Stigma is there, It’s weird.

They really think about it. It’s the weird thing that why we do that.

Stack: It is a very odd thing. Yeah. That is a very odd thing. And that’s something that’s in the description of my show. Your trauma is your trauma and it’s it, but that experiences everybody. So let’s talk about it. Yeah, for sure.

All right, so the art, I love the art, and I gotta tell you, the first one that stood out to me, and I think I saw it and then I had multiple people send it to me, and then I’ve seen it across social media and it’s the sanctuary trauma, and I’ll explain it to people that may not have seen it. There’s a firefighter sitting on the ground and he’s got a, looks like a Tumblr in his hand.

It says PTs, up and down the Tumblr, and then there’s a white shirted, firefighter, I’m assuming the chief or a captain or something. And he’s pouring a bucket of fuel on top of the firefighter.

DanSun: Yeah. And so that’s pretty controversial. Yes. Actually what ares holding to the candle and was a flame

Stack: lit. Yeah.

Now I see it. Yep. Now I

DanSun: see that. Yeah. And that officer is blindfolded,

Stack: so he is just ignorant to the fact of what’s going on.

DanSun: Exactly. He doesn’t know what he’s, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. So that firefighter is sitting on the ground. He is trying to protect his. His flame.

He’s trying to guard his and protect his trauma, meaning that he’s not really sharing, he’s not really open about it. He’s trying his best to manage it quietly and through what sanctuary trauma is. It’s when somebody who experience his trauma, then later those two place where they’re hoping to get support and validation in turn receives more trauma.

Now, in that specific piece, it is an officer, cuz I see that often and I hear that often from our peers of work environments that are non-trauma informed. It’s a nice way of saying toxic to both places, but I think non-trauma and formal workplace is better cuz a lot of people don’t. They don’t really know.

But it’s not only the officers or management. It could also be know your peers, it could be family, it could be lots of places that really don’t have the tools to best support people. Suffering. But regardless, it’s still sanctuary trauma where you’re hoping to get support somewhere and in turn you get more trauma.

And then in some studies show that secondary is actually more traumatic than the first trauma. Some suggest that secondary trauma is a better predictor of disability and we’re turning to work or on, So what the important thing about that is a controllable. We may not be able to control that primary trauma.

We understand we’re gonna see horrible things in our careers. We don’t, we can’t really control those. But what we can do after is controllable that secondary trauma or sanctuary Trauma is controllable by developing and helping organizations. Thank families. Coworkers be more trauma.

Stack: Yeah, I was just gonna make that mention that, wait, we can change that completely.

And that’s just by that, this whole just having a conversation and bringing it, bringing these, this treatment, bringing it to the light and shining a light on it and trying to extinguish that behavior.

DanSun: Yeah, that’s right. And the thing is, people don’t really know. There’s really no roadmap like firefighters.

We have, occupational health and safety guidelines. For my department, if we get a new chainsaw, we all need to get training on that show, even if it’s similar to the whole chainsaw that we have. We need to go through that chainsaw. We know the safety pledge about, we all need to sign piece of paper saying, Yeah, we’ve done the training on this date chainsaw.

So that way if I’m at work and I cut my arm off using the chainsaw, then occupational health and safety will come in. I’m like, Hey, it is the workplace injury. Did Daniel receive this training? And then the organization will, yes, we did do this training as. As required through policy that we did that. So this was an accident and then they investigated us to what happened, so it won’t happen again.

I know it’s a lot more difficult to do that with mental injury, but I think it can be done and it is being done, I believe in another parts of the world. Oh,

Stack: I think it can definitely be done. I just, like we said, I think it’s just a mindset that we have to get out of and then find that new mindset to, We’ve had some new blood in leadership positions that are willing to accept the new thought behind it.

DanSun: Yeah. And things leadership, they don’t really know, so it’s difficult because leadership has a lot on their plan already. They’re trying to keep the ship afloat already and then there’s something else is coming on. So I believe that they really need help. I think they would need, Look, here’s if you want to take care of the mental health of your employees, here’s the guideline.

Follow this guideline so you don’t have to. Come up with something you don’t need to there is something to be said about just being a good human being as well. But that’s probably another topic for another show. But it would be great if they could have a guideline, a mental health, a psychologically healthy workplace guideline that they had to follow.

And I think most places would, if there was risk of the liability or increased insurance rates or something. If, let’s say by chance in my fire department I went in, I did an entry on a fire and I was killed inside a fire, if that was investigated and it was determined that I didn’t have training to do entry and then potentially that could be a, the liability of the fire department.

Why did Daniel go into that fire when he didn’t have the training to then that they could be held liable for that. But if there were similar guidelines for Okay, Daniel kill himself, then it’s gonna be investigation. You bring in trauma from a previous career or childhood trauma that maybe was the result of this and if not, okay, what he diagnosed with post traumatic stress.

If he was, what was the trip? The terminate factor? Did he receive, Did he have this trauma because of the calls that he’s been on and actually to research? Or is it because of working in a non-trauma inform work environment or toxic environment? And in some places if it’s determined that a firefighter, and I believe, I could be wrong, this is happening in, in Australia.

I think if a firefighter takes his life or her life, there’s an investigation done. And if that investigation shows that trauma or that post traumatic stress was due to a toxic look environment, then that organization is hub liable. It would be if there was a physical injury. So it’s already being done for physical injury, but for some reason it’s not being done for mental injuries.

Stack: I just had this discussion on another podcast. One of the things that we need to first do is just admit. To the suicides because we’re not admitting to all the suicides for exactly the same reason that you just said I believe. And it’s a financial reason. Yeah, because once we, once departments admit to it, then they have to figure out why.

And they have to start to figure out if they can A, prevent it or B, do they pay out l o d benefits for it? Yeah. And that scares people for the reason you just said increased insurance rate increased payouts and that’s terrifying to departments trying to save money already.

DanSun: But I think I the and you’re right, but I think that’s really shortsighted cuz the flip side of that is that if you take proper care of the mental health of your employee, there’s many benefits in that.

There’s retention, less over time, less sick time, less training. No, there it’s gonna affect the bottom line if your staff and employees are healthy and happy. Yes. No one’s gonna be less sick time, less harassment and bullying. Prob by doing that, it’s going to, you’re scared of bringing it up because of the liability, but the truth is, if they do it, it’s probably gonna save the money in the long run.

I, for many reasons, completely

Stack: agree with you. And that’s, like you said, it’s short sided. And once we can finally get people to look beyond the bottom line and the short term, it, maybe we can make that change

DanSun: right there. Yeah. And I think what’s gonna, in my opinion, what’s gonna have to happen is that there’s gonna have to be some legislative involvement.

And it’s happening. Like I can see it coming in other parts of the world. It’s starting to come up where that responsibility is gonna be, the departs gonna be held accountable to government legislations, right? So then they’re gonna be forced to do that. And I, and unfortunately I think that’s gonna be.

Only way that’s gonna,

Stack: I think that for mental health. And I also think that for, and this is a whole different subject that I won’t get off on a tangent, but I think it’s also for the schedule and how we’re getting sleep at work, I think those both gonna be legislated in some manner at some point. Yeah.

DanSun: Yeah. Yeah. That is a totally different topic. Least to both

Stack: odd . Yeah. We get, that’s a whole nother show right there. The next piece of art that, that really jumped out at me was one that’s called parasite. And there’s no, there’s just parasite, There’s no real caption beneath the word parasite, but I think it’s pretty obvious what we’re talking about here cuz it’s a firefighter sitting in a turnout coat and he’s got one hand on one side of his head and the other hand is holding a gun on top of his head and there’s a kind of a burning in his brain.

And so I can make my own assumptions about this, but I’d love to hear what was in, in your, what were your idea when you made this one?

DanSun: Yeah, I, and when people look at the artwork, they do extrapolate their own interpretation of it, which is what I like, cuz it’s, I think the images are mostly just the catalyst.

For people to attach their own experiences to. So I don’t usually like to explain my motivation for them. Okay. Because I don’t want people to think, and I will, but I don’t want people to think that, my, the reason I created it isn’t more valid than what another person’s interpretation of it would be.

So if someone looked at that picture and through their experiences interpreted in their own way, if they hear my interpretation of it, I don’t want to let them at interpretation for them. My interpretation isn’t more, any more doesn’t it’s not more, doesn’t hold more value because I’m the creator then than someone else’s interpretation from seeing it.

Do you know what I mean? How about

Stack: I do this? How about I explain what I saw in it, and then we can discuss from there. Sure. So what, obviously what I see is that there’s a, there’s. That burning is a, is some sort of a demonn up there that he can’t just, he just can’t let go of. And the one answer he’s thinking of is he can just end it and he can use that weapon, put a bullet in his head and it’s, and that part is over for him, but it’s not over for everybody else.

And so that parasite might be twofold. So he’s trying to get rid of his own parasite, but then that suicide becomes a parasite for others.

DanSun: Yeah let’s even a better interpretation of what my initial plan was. That’s great. I never thought, I never see him thought of it that way. That’s brilliant.

That’s great. When I created it and I used, I titled a parasite on purpose because it starts off you don’t know, and this is my experience with trauma, it gradually stuck up on me. So it, then eventually slow it. It eats away at you and you really don’t even know this what’s happening. And for me, it really rewired my brain and I was really starting to.

Take over to the point where I felt that if I killed myself, then I’ll be okay. That’s kinda what my mind post was. I thought, I’m not, It’s like squishing a bug, know I’m gonna squish this bug. Then I’ll think that my, the past speed to understand what I really meant to kill myself wasn’t there. My, my wiring was changed and I didn’t really, I didn’t want to die.

I didn’t wanna leave my family. I just didn’t want feel anything anymore and so I thought if I kill myself then I’ll be okay. It like this picture like that with the firefighter got this wrapped around and there’s all around him on blanket that says that, yeah, it’s a small glowing red dock that eventually get bigger and bigger until it eventually takes over.

Your brain Andes you to

gradual that feeds for. The trickery of it that I wasn’t, that I wasn’t aware about was happening to me. That was the scary

Stack: part. Yeah. And I think that parasite brings, to me, it brings also the word a description of kind of the word insidious. It’s just something that you just can’t get rid of and it’s just nasty.

DanSun: Yeah. Yeah. But you can’t do, and you can, it’s not as easy. Everyone has their own treatment for that. You just have to find the way that works for you,

Stack: yeah, And that’s another thing about this show is one suggestion doesn’t, isn’t, it’s not one size fits all. So that’s why I love to get it, love to get an explanation from people about the different kinds of therapies and recoveries that they’ve gone through themselves and other people can go, Okay, maybe that piece works for me.

Maybe just talk therapy works for me, or maybe EMDR works for me or whatever. Or maybe desensitization works for me. And so it’s opening people’s eyes to the different offerings that are out there.

DanSun: Yeah. Yeah. Cause a lot of people don’t even know what’s available out there. And there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of weird stuff out there that, that works for some people.

You just have to find out what, what works for you. I think there’s a place in Brazil where you can, if you’re suffering from severe trauma, debilitating trauma, I think it’s in Brazil, somewhere in Central America, maybe South America, that you can, they get you high on acid. So when you’re high on acid and your mind is laid open, a therapist who is trained in psychotherapy during that state will go in there and tinker around with your brain and stay with you until you come up it. I’ve seen interviews of guys that have done that, guys that can’t leave their house and they go down there and do that when they’re fine. If I’m not condoning that, I’m not saying everyone get high on that. So they go to your therapist. That is an option that has worked

Stack: for some people at the risk of sounding reckless, I’m condoning it.

I’m a huge supporter of hallucinogenics and my department knows it. I’m not, I don’t hide that. I don’t care. Who knows that? I’m a huge proponent of it. I think that it’s a valuable tool in our recovery. And if I think that the South America one that, that I preach is iowaska, and it is, it’s those retreats and it might be Brazil, I’m not sure which.

There are a couple countries you do ’em and it’s, it, there’s almost a shaman to it. And you take, you use the iowaska as a journey. And it almost, not almost, it rewires the brain while you’re in that state. And so if you, and then the, the African version is, I began, which is a little more of the nuclear option, but it, I’ve heard, I’ve read reports that of not only repairing that, that emotional pain, but it’s repairing physical pain in some cases.

But that goes back to the theory that trauma is stored in the body anyway. Yeah. So the next one, And that be,

DanSun: Oh, go ahead. I’m sorry. Oh no, I was gonna start going. Got the trauma in the body and acupuncture and all that stuff. But all valuable tool I do, It’ll we’ll be talking forever if you strike that dog

Stack: modality.

There’s, Yeah, there’s so many avenues we can go. But yeah, anybody that ask me I, I completely support any of the psychedelics, the hallucinogen, I think ketamine is a very valuable tool and it’s, and , people don’t realize that it is legal in all 50 states as a guided therapy. Yeah. So the next one I had identified as something I wanted to talk about was Burning Candle.

And I think this is a big one for first responders today. And I’ll explain it to the audience again, and I’m gonna link all of these images into the show notes so people, when they’re listening, they can go to the show notes and see what we’re talking about. It’s three first responders, I believe it’s two police officers and a firefighter in the middle, and they’re sitting on a candle that’s burning from both ends, but it’s not just burning from both ends.

What is suspended over is fire. And my assumption and what I see when I view this is the fact that we’re not really taking care of ourselves off of duty and we’re taking on all this trauma on duty, all this pressure on duty, that we’re getting it from every direction. From left from under, from on top.

And we’re not finding that release for ourselves.

DanSun: Yeah, that’s right. It’s actually at the paramedic of firefighter and a police officer. Okay. All right. If you look closely at that one, the police officers the only one that’s noticing what’s happening. She’s looking at, that’s looking over the edge and she’s Hey, this isn’t safe.

And then the other two are actually either whispering to each other, she gossiping or something. But yeah, that’s, and I see that a lot. It certainly happened to me and unfortunately me, I fell in that fire and because it was, and there’s many ways of interpreting that depending what you’re, When I think of law enforcement and all the pressure that they have and all the negativity that’s going against that, while they’re still trying to be professionally doing their job, and that’s tough.

I think firefighters, We have it a little bit easier, I think. But we also take, we identify with our careers. That I am a firefighter, I am a police officer, I am a paramedic. So when we leave our work, we’re still, many of us have these shrines in our basements or in our, the works would never really leaves us.

And if that whole experience is a positive thing for you, then great. That’s fantastic. But if you’re starting to experience trauma, from part of my treatment that I had to release my identity with my profession in order for me to recover. So I had to be a paramedic and a firefighter at work.

Then when I came home, I had to be a father and a husband and not be a paramedic firefighter at home. That one’s really hard to do. How do you do that? Yeah, it’s . Yeah, I know it, It’s, yeah, it’s difficult to do and it’s not so much, but letting go the, of the, that identity, it’s about putting your efforts where it belongs.

So at the fire hall, my attention. And energy went to that work. When I was at home, my, I had to make the conscious decision to put my energy toward my family and think that worked at work, and that was hard to do, but I had to do that in order for you to, I had to make that, that, I think then I realize that I’m my, I’m not who, my job isn’t who I am,

Stack: just my job.

No, that’s exactly it. It’s not what, It’s not who we are. It’s what we do. Yeah. And that’s a very distinctive delineation there that needs to be had, because like you said, everyone identifies as a firefighter, as a cop or as a paramedic instead of as Daniel and . You personalize it when you start to identify, obviously as, I think one of my earlier guests said it, it’s funny, ever lay this story because he said, when people ask him, Hey, how are you?

Or How you doing? It’s easy to go, Eh, I’m alright. I’m good. But when they say, how’s Daniel doing today? It took him by surprise. Gave him pause and he thought about it and he went, Oh wait, That personalizes it for me. And I, he said he was unable not to answer that truthfully. Yeah, that’s good point.

So that goes along those lines. That’s not, I’m not a firefighter. I work as a firefighter, but

DanSun: that’s not me. Yeah. And it’s not, it doesn’t mean not having pride in who, what you do and being proud of what you do. No, not at all. It’s just that for me, it was filling over into other parts of my life and some that I couldn’t control.

I’m thinking bringing calls home and trying to process, my shift and then bringing it home for me if I concentrated on my family. That made that process a little quick. Where if I’d go home and still try to process and think about my shift and think about the calls and dwell and then send messages to my platoon lates and talk about stuff and on my off shift, or go through my work emails and, could maybe do my stuff at home from for work and do all the training, online training stuff, I did do that at home, then I would never really leave work.

So when I came home, I wouldn’t do it. That stuff and concentrates give my energy to, to who really needed that when I was at home.

Stack: And that’s perfect. And people can learn such a valuable lesson for that because I do see that and I worry about the people that it’s so consumed by it, but that is their identity and it’s something that I’ve been trying to talk to people about.

Just be you be a human outside

DanSun: of work. Yeah. And they, some people maybe can do both. Maybe they can do that part and still have enough leftover for other parts of their life. But for me, after. 15, 20 years. I only have so much to give and I have to decide, where my energy’s gonna, when my energy’s gonna go.

Stack: So another one that I bookmarked is called experience. And I think that it’s a powerful image cuz it’s a split face, basically a split face split helmet. And it’s showing what I assume is ha the left half is a recruit, and then the second, or excuse me, the right side is a captain. And it’s showing the progression, a marked progression from the inexperience to the almost over experience and the toll that career takes on somebody.

DanSun: Yeah, that, yeah, that picture, I did that picture actually from one of our recruits in my prior department and one of our captains or senior captains. So I took a picture of both of them and that’s what their debut would look like, Blended their faces together to create the legit, like the face. So that’s, so it doesn’t really look exactly either of them.

But when I blended it together, Then I really aged the captain side or the stare. And for me that’s really what it, and that’s really not meant to be a, I know you look at it and it’s, people would’ve interpreted as being a negative thing, but it’s, I didn’t call experiences and only experience a negative thing at all.

It’s a positive thing. But for me, after it did really change me in po probably in overall. Now I’m looking back to my 20 year career, even though it almost constantly my life overall, it was a wonderful and very positive experience to be an emergency worker. And I promoted, and if anyone wants to get into it, I say, Absolutely.

You, There’s nothing like it. And if this is, if you want to experience with full life and live life on the edge, then this is the job for you. And that didn’t disappoint. So I think overall it, the experience has been wonderful. But it also leaves. It’s not what that poetry was meant to be.

Stack: And I think that’s exactly what it came across to me as.

And I didn’t necessarily take it as a negative. I just took it as there’s a toll that can be taken on a body and a mind and a spirit after 20, 30 years in the job. That’s

DanSun: true. But again, overall it’s positive. In my experience I have this mindset of being a, and again, I’m only speaking on my, I don’t like telling people what to do.

Cause I don’t feel I’m, I have any authority or I’m in a place to do that. But I can share my experiences as peer, and that’s what I do through my artwork. So when I say things, it’s based on my own experiences and the opinions of my old, But I try to live by thought of tragic optimism or being a tragic optimist, which means I, I acknowledge, I did a picture about it, this big cherry blossom tree.

It looks beautiful and there’s a little bulldog, which is need sleeping or resting underneath this tree. And there’s lots of nature in these and stuff. It’s very nice. And you look at, it’s really pretty. And then there’s aur looking far into the distance. And if you look both far in the distance, there’s a man hanging on a news which represents suicide.

So that’s danger far away. So that for me, represents my attitude of tragic optimism, meaning that I have to recognize and acknowledge the tragedy or the trauma in my life in order for me to process them. And that’s okay. But overall, I’m optimistic. Like my overall outlook is I’m a big believer and example of, and I see it so many of our peers of post traumatic growth, of people being.

That are because of their trauma. And the, although it’s that picture experience showed like an old weather, leathery, experienced often who you’ve seen some global things overall, weve seen some tragic things overall. It’s an optimistic and positive experience, I think, in my opinion.

Stack: Yeah that’s a fantastic way of putting it.

And that, that that, that tragically optimistic is that how you termed it? I apologize. Make sure I’ve got your words correct. Yeah. Yeah. Why I

DanSun: feel I’m a tragic optimist.

Stack: That’s a brilliant way of putting it, because I think that, I think most of us are, because that’s, we have to be, I think that relates to the, almost that dark humor part of the si of the service.

We’re we find our ways to deal with the tragedy, but we’re optimistic for the long run. Yes.

DanSun: Yeah. So I really try to promote that and post, write a growth and then share my experiences with that. I often hear people that are really struggling and they really, it seems like they don’t really have a lot of, and I understand that when you’re deep in that trauma and your brain is rewired and it’s hard to see outside, your perspectives change and it’s hard to see outside your bubble of trauma.

They could certainly seem that way. So I think will people like you and your podcast and others of us that have had similar experiences but are now thriving, because I don’t wanna put extra pressure on people that, okay, yeah, now you’re in your trauma and you’re feeling and you’re contemplating taking your life, snap out of it and get better and be better than you can.

I’m not, I don’t wanna put that extra pressure on people. I just want people to be aware that, hey, this is, there’s nothing special about me. I am no difference than anybody else. And I’ve had some horrible experiences and yes, I was suicidal and it was a luck road to get to where I am now, but me and many other people have done it.

So it is. Possible.

Stack: I love that term, posttraumatic growth. And that’s not one that’s bandi about enough today, PTs, ptsd, what, whatever the term is, people want to use that just, that’s throwing out constantly. And it’s always about the stress and the disorder and those letters, those three or four letters.

But when you say ptg, people don’t understand what it is. And then you explain that it’s that post traumatic growth and it’s what comes after the recovery or comes through the recovery. And it’s that, it’s so important to talk about that. So people will realize that you come out the other end and you’re stronger and you’re more equipped or you’re better equipped to deal with life in general, not just the fire service or your experiences.

DanSun: Yeah, and it’s probably a foreign con like we bringing up to people like, Oh, what did that? But if you think about. It’s quite prevalent in our society. You, even if you use the analogy of going to the gym where you’re going to the gym and busting muscle tissue, you’re traumatizing your muscles.

And the result is that they’re stronger. Or if you look at origin stories for a lot of superheroes, Batman, he sees his parents get murdered, and then because of that trauma, he becomes what he is. And Spiderman and the Hulk and all these Wonder Woman and all these superhero origins are from trauma.

And because of that trauma, now they’re doing amazing things. And I see it, I, I know hundreds of emergency workers that have gone through severe trauma. And because of that, and you and I are examples of, by example of this, even this podcast, there’ll be, it’s there and it suggest, and many religions leave out.

Its, there’s no growth of folks suffering. And I don’t also really agree with that. In Japan, there’s a artful called Kazuki where they take a clay bowl and they smash it when they rebuild it using gold blacker. So when it’s done it, it looks way. Nicer and has way more character than before it was damaged.

And that’s a great analogy for post traumatic growth, that because of that trauma actually has more character and it’s more beautiful because of that trauma in the end. Yeah, I was gonna say, yeah, it’s a wonderful concept that I think I’m trying to make more people

Stack: aware of. Yeah. I’m trying to make myself more aware of it because in my own journey with therapy, which is very recent, cause I’ve been very open about my journey with therapy and it’s, it is a recent thing for me that one of the things that’s first done in my sessions, it seems like nowadays is, All right, let’s talk about what the week was like, obviously, and how I dealt with things.

And then it’s her making sure that she’s pointing out the things I’ve done, the growth that I’ve had in that week, and the reaction to certain things and how I would’ve reacted versus how I did react. And it’s made that, that post traumatic growth more apparent to me. So moving on to the next one cause we, I got a couple more I wanna talk about then I have a few questions for you.

The uh, The other one that stood out to me was frayed. And it’s a darker, darker one, in my opinion. It’s a firefighter sitting, he’s got his helmet on, hands on, his elbows on his knees, head bowed down a little bit. And on the left side of the image is there’s an angel looking down upon him. And then on the other side of some sort of a demonn looking down upon him.

And I know that you mentioned what some of the angels and demons represent for you, and is that still the case

DanSun: in this piece? Yeah, so that’s trauma and recovery. So afraid, meaning that everything is good and contained, but on the edges it’s coming apart. . And that’s what that image represents.

But also with things being fray, that if you pull on that string, then it’s just gonna get more. So that’s a firefighter contemplating balancing even like his good days and his bad days, or his trauma in his recovery, whatever his trauma is or whatever his recovery is. But because it’s afraid, unless he doesn’t get a handle on it and recognize or acknowledge what’s happening, that fray part or that trauma part or that demonn part in that picture is gonna overtake both sides.

Him and the recovery side is what the concept for that picture is. And

Stack: to me, there’s a piece of this that, that speaks to my own personal experience that I’ve had conversations about. And it’s the, it’s, it doesn’t have to be, or in with emotions or with experiences. It can be. And so you can have negative emotion quote unquote, a negative emotion.

I hate the word negative emotion, but you can have a negative one with a positive one. You can have them together, and there’s, And they’re very valid still. It’s not an either or scenario.

DanSun: Yeah. No. And that it’s about acknowledging it. So being tragically optimistic, meaning acknowledge the tragedies and don’t try.

The opposite of that, of being tragically optimistic is being a toxic positive. You, it’s not sweeping everything under the rug and pretend that everything is okay. It’s acknowledging what’s happening in order for you to get the treatment and recover from it. And that’s okay.

Stack: All right. So the final one, the final piece that, that stood out to me and by no means, or these are the only ones that stood out to me, but I know that we have limited time to, to discuss ’em all, is one that you have titled Standing on the Shoulders of the Fallen.

It Did, and it’s a skull. It’s an animal skull. I’m assuming it’s some sort of I’m not sure what the animal is, but on coming out of, or sitting on top of that skull. Other words that says Stigma, Correct.

DanSun: That’s right. And then so stigma. So if you look closely at that, it’s not, it’s actually like a demonn skull.

Okay. It’s not really a. Yeah, it’s I tried to demonize it a

Stack: little bit. You’re right now It does favor the demonn from the LA from Fray as well. And then on top of that is a phoenix. Yeah. And I’m going to go ahead and assume, and I know it’s dangerous, I’m assume everybody knows what the meaning behind a phoenix is.

It’s rising from the ashes and being stronger from that tragedy is my guess, that as a fire service or as people in general, the people that we’ve lost along the way might teach us to be stronger in the aftermath.

DanSun: Yeah. If you look farther back in the distance of that picture, the man hanging on the news again, which is representing suicide, I see it now like way in the distance.

Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, the idea of that picture is unfortunately, and I do a memorial portrait every day cause I get requests, I have get several requests every day and I have a separate Facebook page and I do memorial portrait for emergency workers. And I don’t often, I don’t know the cause of death.

But sometimes they let me know that it was suicide. So if it’s continuing to happen and that’s just the fact, like there’s, we are killing ourselves because of the trauma that we’re experiencing. And it depends, and I don’t assume that the trauma, the origin that traumas from the calls we go on, it could be from many different reason.

But many of us are dying and that’s continuing to happen. And I think it’s getting worse. But I think every time that happens, it raises awareness a little bit. It’s a paramedic, firefighter, or police officer or somebody. I think it’s more evident in that area if it’s even known that it’s a suicide. That it weighs the awareness little bit. So their, the fact that person died that way is waving the awareness, which is fueling know improvements or changes. Believe their sacrifice. And again, this is my opinion. So in that picture, there’s sea suicide on the background. It’s been a desert atmosphere.

The idea that the skull is trauma, a demon skull, that eventually through the sacrifice of that person who took their life in the background is eventually, I hope, gonna kill that stigma, which is what that skulls and there’s gonna be a rebirth, which is what that Phoenix is. I’m hoping that rebirth is what we discussing in this conversation about overall culture change.

Where instead of trying to design better armor or better life job, we’re gonna try to stop the bullets or repair the sinks and ship, put our focus on what’s causing this trauma and repair that. And I think that will. Unfortunately, I think what fuels it is I be suicide, but continue to happen every day.

Yeah. Unfortunately

Stack: we’re gonna lie to death truth, we’re gonna lose more before, before we make those changes, unfortunately. And our job is to get to people before they, to get to that point and like you said, stop this

DanSun: stigma. Yeah. Which is a lot harder cause it, they can’t just, A lot of people say, just stop the stigma if something happens, come forward, people do that and they get fired or they get stigmatized or they get removed from officer development programs or they do get stigmatized so that, stigma has teeth.

It’s not just the idea that we can just turn off. It really has to be a culture change, which is, it’s just like rolling a mountain up a mountain. It’s a lot of. So

Stack: what I’m gonna, I wanna read the last two sentences or it’s, Yeah. It’s two sentences that you wrote underneath this stand on the shoulders that have fallen.

And then we can move on to the few questions I had before we get to the end here. And it says, This piece honors all of our fallen brothers and sisters who have fallen to their mental in injuries. It’s their sacrifice that fuels my passion and desire to eliminate the ignorance and stigma of psychological trauma that still seems to be so prominent.

And that stands out to me because I’ve relayed the story on the show before of why I started the show. And it was because a local a former volunteer firefighter who was local, killed himself in January of 21, and at that time he was the fifth firefighter in our region to kill himself in a year. And it wasn’t talked about.

And it was, it ran from rookie to veteran and it was, at that point I decided we had to do something different. And so this is exactly what I was talking about then. And that sentence encapsulates it perfectly. So that’s very well written. And then the artwork is very intense. So thank you

DanSun: now. Thank you. I appreciate that.


Stack: that being said the questions I wanted to talk to you about and everybody knows I have two questions at the end, I ask, and we’re gonna get to those. But I wanted to talk to you about the kind of issues for firefighters today, what you might see as the most pressing issue for firefighters

DanSun: today we’re talking.

Yeah. With mental health, I think it’s that stigma. It’s the stigma of there’s still, that fuck it up buttercup, not only from managers or officers, but also from, we call ourselves a brotherhood that yet when we really need it. And again, I’m generally speaking here, I know there’s many departments that are very supportive and very forward thinking when it’s coming.

When it comes to mental health support and new modalities in changing culture. But I think overall, when you look at even the statistical data, if you can find any accurate data on firefighter suicide, it’s pretty scary. And it’s still difficult I think for many of us to come forward with.

Hey, that call strained my brain a little bit. I think I, I got a mine fracture. I need to get help from that. That instead of, Okay, sure, go get help. I hear the resources, we’ll give you whatever you need. Get fixed up. Let us know how we can facilitate that for you, and then come back to work when you’re all good.

You’ll similar to, you’ll sprained my knee on that call or my ankle on that call. Have to be out for, That’s okay. Then you get that stuff done. I sit up, do whatever you need and then once you get your return to work letter from your doctor, then come back, go. For some reason it’s not like that with.

It’s mental. We don’t even consider it an injury. It’s still, I think in many places in fire departments it’s considered a, an illness and I’ve never met fire chief or a fire department that didn’t say that mental health wasn’t a priority. Them, it literally translates to the men we went on the floor, but actually feel that it happening.

So I really think there needs to be a culture change for more awareness, more equalization, more normalization of mental injury for firefighters. I think what really needs to happen, that continues to be a challenge for us, I think.

Stack: And it’s ironic that you answered it that way. And cuz my next two questions relate to that.

Where did you, where would you wanna see the fire services go in the future? And what common sense change in mental health? What would be a common sense change in mental health? And I think that was well answered with the first answer. It’s, let’s de-stigmatize and make this an injury, not an illness, and change that vernacular and change the approach.

DanSun: Yeah, if you think of, if you think of toxic or, I’m trying to get away from saying toxic work environments, cause that’s a negative way of saying trauma informed work environment. So if we, if you look at non trauma informed work environments and look at retention, bullying and harassment, sick time costs, lots of money to hire and train firefighters.

If you can have a trauma informed work environment or work toward having a trauma informed work environment, then it’s common sense to me that the whole organization is gonna benefit from that. So when we do go out and see these horrible things and experience trauma through our job, we can come back to our station and then be in the trauma informed work environment where that type of things are normalized and which will prevent the sanctuary trauma aspect of it.

So there’s, it’s a win, win. It’s a win for the organization. It’s a win for the firefighter and it’s a win for the people in our community that we’re serving. So that seems common sense to me. Instead of the hack, get out, sure can hack gonna get out? Maybe kill myself. Then you’re gonna have to re up to that point.

It wasn’t probably very productive. I was probably using a lot of sick time. I was probably angry and toxic in my work environment, which isn’t good for anybody. And then you have to fill my position. So you have to do interviews, takes times. You have to retrain a firefighter. You have to buy gear for that firefighter like that to say if you can’t hack it, get out.

They’re the lineup of people lining up to, to take your place. I think that’s really narrow minded. It makes more sense to, to be trauma informed with the firefighters that you have. You have the experience and to cultivate that. In which your existing work and, but that seems like common sense to me and I hope that’s where I hope we can go in the future.

I have a brother who works at EA games and Vancouver and it, I went towards workplace. So they do video games there. They make all these video games and this place is like a college counter volleyball court. There was in his area, he’s the director of, I can’t remember what he said, but he had a C in his place was that none of my guys have, The people that I work with have hours, they have deadlines and my job as their director is to facilitate them and to support them and to give them what they need.

And they said, Yeah, you need them. Need them a C sir, because no computers law. So we hired a full time student that came in, which then made them more productive. And it will look like it is win. I’m not saying maybe I am saying maybe we should have full time student prior would not be awesome. That would be awesome.

But the point is that it’s not like the whole attitude of that whole workplace was what’s facilitating. The productivity of, and that’s a very high stress, high pressure environment. But they recognize to have a work environment that was very supportive so that the employee could be as productive possible as possible, be to everybody.

And I wish we’d adopted a little bit of that

type in the fire service. No, hand Google does that and Apple does that. And no Amazon name run Amazon. But even Mary Kay makeup does that. They have this attitude of we will a happy employee, the protective employee, instead of you do this because we told them, I wish that was more prevalent in the fire solutions.

Stack: I’ll trade you a masseuse in every firehouse for a, an infrared sauna in every firehouse

DanSun: to help us. I was in Finland, I tour all through Finland and every fire department in Finland has a sauna. It’s brilliant. And every, even the brand new ones, like when they’re building a brand new fire hall, get through sauna And I talked, I spent a lot of time in firefighter therapy.

Yeah, I read some studies where Ash, Ashley saunas are bad or after a fire, unless you clean properly today, you opened up those poisons and all the talks had come in. Yes. But when I talked to the firefighters about that inland, they said the true benefit of having no saunas is decompressing after a call.

So they would have their fire fit in a big structure fire, they’d all shower, get all the toxins off, and then they all go outta the sauna. But what happened in that sauna was the decompression of that call. And and all who said that’s the true value of it to not opening up the pole and sweating out.

Yeah, they added Infin. I believe that every fire hole, even brand new ones, Lawon in there. And I think that’s great.

Stack: Yeah, that’s a wonderful idea. And I, that’s another one that I fully support and yes, done correctly let’s shower and get all the gross decontaminate or contaminants off and get rid of that and then go into the sauna.

Yeah. I always

DanSun: have this running joke with my chief. I, cheap one, we getting our receipts, You got damn problem. Next budget cycle and putting it in. And that was like a running joke between us for 20 years. , he all about what do we need The fire cheap. We need a for me what time here goes. Yeah, I’m put it in Dan, but never happened.

Stack: All right. The last two questions I ask every guest and I discussed ’em real quick with you before we started recording, was, first I call the show the things we all carry based off of the novel of the things they, Carrie. And it talked about, it’s a platoon in Vietnam taking, taking items into war.

But it was more about what they brought out of war with the mental scars and the emotional damage. And we do the same thing in a fire service. We take our tools into a call, and then we bring the emotional stuff out of a call. What I like to ask people is something in their day to day life that they have on their person, an everyday carry that they have, that they feel naked without and to see what your answer is to Yeah.


DanSun: don’t really, I actually have, I’ve designed a challenge coin. I’m still waiting to get it from me. But if it’s no many pipe buddies we have of a challenge coin. And if, if you get coin and you don’t have the coin on yet, then they have to buy drinks to everybody. Like I designed a coin that has my logo on one side and one of my art pieces on the other.

And my, I’m gonna carry for me all the time. And what it’s gonna for me are your have in my pocket. Is that reminder of my couchman is what I, it’s gonna be like where. It’s gonna be a reminder of my experiences and how I just tricked how I felt. I was tricked how my trauma snuck up on me. And it almost fools me into taking my own life.

And so that’s, I feel like for me, it’s gonna represent a, what I’m doing now on my close traumatic growth because I’m not a mental superhero by any means. I wake up and I’ll have some really bad time by planning and keep that. And that’s gonna be a reminder of my growth from my recovery, my post traumatic strength.

And that’s kinda why I don’t have it yet and I something that I wish I did. Cause it’s just gonna be a symbol that I’m gonna keep looking all the time and I won’t offer it to anybody else. It’s gonna be very personal to me. I’m just gonna have probably five made because it cost as much to have five made as it does to have to get one made.

Yeah. But it’s just gonna be a symbolic. But I’m gonna keep with me all the time.

Stack: I like it. That’s a great answer actually. So you’re working on your everyday care? Yeah. And the,

DanSun: then I do work every day too. If it’s, if it, I do lock the thing for my everyday care that isn’t a physical object, but I work on an art piece.

I do that every day. And then the final

Stack: question I ask everybody is about a book they might wanna suggest to, to the audience. It can. And if there’s not a book, it can be a podcast, a movie, music, it can be anything. Just something that’s going to broaden horizons for the audience. Yeah.

DanSun: There’s a great book that I read, it’s called Resilience, and it’s by Dr.

Steven Wick and Dennis Charney. And what these two gentlemen did is they interviewed hundreds of people that were in life or death situations that probably should have died that they didn’t. And they interviewed them trying to find common traits of resiliency. And resiliency is the word that gets run around a lot.

I don’t really think you can strain or gain resiliency what that was going through the Golet first. But what these gentlemen did is they interviewed all these people and they published this book and then the book through what these common traits of these people had. I can’t remember. There’s I know 10 or 20 or 30 comment traits that these people have and it was very valuable.

I read through it, Kayla, I want, Do I have some of these traits and if I don’t, is there a way that I can try to get some of them to improve how I can better manage the stresses and my resiliency with my everyday life? So it was, it’s a really good book. I speak. Conference is often in, I reference his. And I go through the top 10 in my presentation.

I know in state for me to read that and I share with as many people as I can. So yeah, it’s the resiliency that finds a Master Life’s greatest challenges by Steven Wick and Dennis Charney.

Stack: One. I’m fascinated cause I’m gonna definitely have to read that book, so I appreciate that. And one more time, where can everybody find you?

DanSun: Yeah. DanSunPhotos.com. . Just put that into Google or URL line and you’ll see me there on Facebook. I usually put my social media, my images and my narratives. I like putting those on social media because people will respond and sometimes reading the comments. I know when I put an art piece it’s woo, a snowball down.

The development as world gets bigger and then the comments just keep growing and people interact and they talk about it. And it’s interesting to see what our peers often and goes in a tangent that isn’t even. Has that do with the art piece? What I posted on my Facebook page is where you see most about type of stuff happening.

That’s usually where I post the images first and then I’ll put them on my webpage after. Awesome.

Stack: So what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna I’ll link to your page on the show notes. I’ll link to the art that we discussed so that people can get a feel for what we are talking about. Cuz I, I don’t think I gave it, I don’t think I did justice to the art, obviously, through my words.

And then I’ll link the book as well. And that’s a great resource. So I appreciate the time you’ve taken with us and it’s been a great conversation. Thank you very much.

DanSun: Yeah, thanks. Having on your, I always like to have an opportunity to, to speak with my cheers.

Stack: Like I said, thank you very much.

It’s been an honor and I hope you have a good rest of your day. And I will, I’ll let you know when the show’s coming out. It should be in a couple weeks.

DanSun: Yeah, that’s for you. Let me know and then I’ll definitely share it on my social media platforms.

Stack: Awesome. Thank you very much sir. Great. Thanks. Have good day.

Go have a good day. We’re out.

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