As we go about our daily activities many of us find ourselves in some pretty scary situations. Places where, should we go down and need medical help, it could be a long way off. Even worse, what if a team-mate, student or family member went down. Would you be prepared to help. Many of us seek out medical training because it is the responsible thing to do and let’s face it, feeling helpless sucks!
In order to avoid that helpless feeling in a medical emergency, I sought out training but more importantly I began looking for the most comprehensive belt mounted med kit I could find. I felt it needed to support a requirement to treat a severe gun shot wound or similar mass trauma without taking up so much room on my belt that I would need to hire a small Sherpa to carry the excess gear. That balance for me came in the form of a DARK Angel Medical, Direct Action Response Kit, or DARK for short.
The DARK and subsequent Pocket DARK are the brainchildren of Kerry “Pocket Doc” Davis. Kerry, along with his wife Lynn Phillips “Hot-Sauce” Davis. Kerry and Lynn own DARK Angel Medical. Not only do they provide some top-notch kit, they also provide the training necessary to use it in an emergency. I would have to say that their “Bullets and Bandages” class is one of the best I have seen in a very long time. Having the kit is important, but knowing how to use it is a necessity.
The latest generation of the DARK comes with:
1) Custom 2nd Generation Pouch— available in 4 colors including multicam, the 2nd gen pouch includes an improved no snag design. Having used both the 1st and 2nd gen pouches, I can say this is a huge improvement and is proof that they are listening to us. Overall size of the pouch is about the same size as a standard dual 30 round Rifle mag pouch. In fact, the vacuum-sealed DARK will fit into a dual 30 round rifle mag pouch if you prefer to carry it that way. It also comes with 1″ wide nylon webbing on each side for attachment of other pouches, placement of light sticks, chest decompression needles, trauma shears or markers. The most important feature to me, is the placement of the tourniquet pouch on the outside. This makes deploying the Combat Applications Tourniquet (CAT) simple and fast for either first or self aid.
2) CAT-The most widely fielded tourniquet in the combat operations. The CAT is easy to use and quick to deploy, this tourniquet is one of the most effective on the market and is the first line defense against life-threatening extremity hemorrhage. So unless you have been living under a rock someplace, you know that stopping blood loss is paramount to survival of the patient. I have found that is it best to use the CAT for everything, including head wounds as this helps keep the patient quiet. I’m joking, just in case someone thinks I went too far there. The actual point is that if you don’t know how to use the CAT, seek out professional training. It could save your or a loved one’s life.
3) Trauma shears– Color matched to the kits, these 7.5″ blade shears come with a black oxide coating with subdued handles so as not to interfere with your ninjaness. They enable the user to quickly remove clothing or other objects for prompt visualization, inspection and treatment of any injuries.
4) Gloves– one pair, nitrile, latex-free gloves to protect you from blood or other bodily fluids. I found that a single pair was not enough so I have added several more to my kit.
5) HALO Seals-by PMI-Packaged two to a package, these are super adhesive and will maintain a solid, occlusive seal in the most austere conditions. Even better is that they will permit a release and reseal of the seal should you need to relieve pressure and, well, packaging them in pairs just makes sense. If you’re not sure why, it is definitely time to take a class.
6) Nasal Airway, 28 Fr—a basic airway adjunct to assist in maintaining a patent airway. These airways are simple and easy to use, sterile and ready to go. The big question is are you?
7) QuikClot Combat Z-folded, super absorbent 12′ length of gauze. There are two variations of this depending on the kit you choose. The Milspec kit includes a QuickClot agent and a metal strip that shows up on X-ray, while the Civilian/LE variant uses a built in haemostatic agent and does not have the metal strip.
8) Compressed Gauze—12’ of gauze packed into a very small package allowing for additional packing material over the haemostatic gauze when necessary. This is a lot easier than making a field expedient bandage and a whole lot cleaner. I added an additional roll of this to my kit as a just in case item.
9) 4” Israeli Bandage— Another item I doubled up on. Remember, it’s not paranoid, it’s prepared! These versatile bandages are super absorbent and are an efficient way to secure focused and sustainable wound compression.
I carry the DARK on my gun belt while training and a spare on my go bag. I also included one in my truck. Being prepared is important, but do not forget the training. There are several items included in the DARK which require a statement of competency. This means you have or will obtain the necessary training to use them correctly.
I cannot emphasize enough the need to learn to treat gun shot wounds and massive trauma. They are far beyond your normal first aid classes. When you seek out training look at the curriculum and determine if it’s a hardcore class where you’ll learn what you need to save your own and other peoples lives, or is it the basics we all get when we do our CPR certifications. All training is important, but self aid and first aid for GSW and massive trauma is not something you just do without training. If it is not included as part of your planning, it is likely you will experience the “error 404,” or “file not found” syndrome and people will die. Maybe even you.
The DARK will provide you with the tools you will need. Seek out the training and learn to use them correctly. DARK Angel Medical will schedule classes in your area if you can get a group together. There may already be something scheduled. Take a look at http://www.darkangelmedical.com/Home.php and find out what you need to do to live and save. As Pocket-Doc likes to say, “Life is Hard, Keep Your Med Kit Simple.”