A lot of folks haven’t heard yet of the Dark Angel D.A.R.K. (Direct Action Response Kit) despite it being rightfully included in the Best of SHOT Show 2012 from NRA’s American Warrior magazine. I’m ordering one, and if all goes well (depends on whether I’m cleared hot to attend) I’ll be able to give you a thorough review at the end of the month, but also will be able to opine intelligently (no comments from the peanut gallery) about the ‘Bullets and Bandages’ class they’re teaching in TX in a couple weeks.

Dark Angel has a reputation as a pretty squared away organization. They are described as thoroughly knowing their business and they have a great philosophy. They not only build and provide excellent kit (the D.A.R.K.), they make their students practice using that kit (or other stuff like it) on the range and in training. The D.A.R.K. takes up approximately the same amount of space as a rifle mag pouch and contains, in their words, “Everything you might need and nothing you don’t.”  Tourniquet, Quik-Clot Combat Gauze, Israeli bandage…you get the pictures (details below) in a proprietary pouch built to differentiate between your medical stuff and your mags.

Kit Up! The Direct Action Response Kit, for use until Doc arrives.

 

 

FYI, if you’re interested, the course I’m hoping to attend is down in Austin the weekend of the 23rd at the Best of the West Range. So we’re clear, that’s not an endorsement, just passing along the info.

 

 

Now I’m gonna step out of my lane just a little bit and engage in a brief rant. There are a couple of things (medically speaking) that have always pissed me off. The first is shoddy training. A troop or a cop will just say, “Okay I’m simulating a bandage here,” the O/C says okay and off they go. Really? How is that preparing you to care for a guy who might be shrieking and writhing around, while some asshole shoots at you? The second is the number of guys who still don’t carry even a rudimentary blow-out kit of some kind. You’d think after over a decade of war, many veterans of which go into law enforcement, that everyone – cops and military alike – would always have something on their person. I don’t care if it’s a bandage, some duct tape, a tampon and a box of Tic-Tacs, something. Cops are far worse about this than soldiers of course. I’ve heard tactical officers say “well, we have TacMeds, and EMS is staged outside the inner perimeter and blah blah blah…” which of course is not an adequate answer. I’ve heard many patrol officers say “well, I keep an IFAK and a trauma kit in my car, one in the back seat and another in the trunk,” which I’m thinking might not do them any good if they’re bleeding out up by the car they just stopped or on the side of the building where they were shot after a 300 meter foot chase. Sure, there’s a real estate issue. Space on a class A duty uniform belt is at a premium. Pistol, mags, flashlight, cuffs, radio, Taser, baton, extra cuffs, etc. I get. However, I’ve got a 34″ waist (33″ when there aren’t any damn Girl Scout cookies in the house) and I still manage to carry a small kit in addition to a third pistol mag and two cuffs. I also keep curlex wrapped around the trauma plate in my vest. Is that the best solution? No, but it beats bleeding out while listening to the sirens of the boys and girls coming hard to try to save you. Now, I’m not suggesting every flatfoot in a patrol car needs to have a D.A.R.K. on their rig (that’s unrealistic) but it wouldn’t hurt to throw on in or on your rapid deployment bag, and keep something on your person at all time to stop that embarrassing (and potentially fatal) leakage.

Rant concluded.

Dark Angel Instructor rig from recent coure (see description for contents)

If you’re curious, this is what the D.A.R.K. contains:

1)  Custom Pouch from EGL with captive lid system and bungee lacing for TQ, chest decompression needles, markers, light sticks, and other items.

2)  CAT-The most widely fielded tourniquet in the combat operations theater. 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.

3)  Trauma shears- 7.5″ blades, black oxide coated with Coyote Tan Handles. Enables the user to quickly remove clothing or other objects for prompt visualization, inspection and treatment of any injuries.

The Insert:
  4)  Gloves- one pair, nitrile, latex-free gloves to protect you from blood or other bodily fluids.

5)  HALO Seals-by PMI-Packaged two to a pack, these are super adhesive and will maintain a solid, occlusive seal in the most austere conditions.

6)  Nasal Airway, 28 Fr—a basic airway adjunct to assist in maintaining a patent airway.

7)  QuikClot Combat Gauze LE—Z-folded, super absorbent 12′ length of gauze with the added benefit of a proven haemostatic agent built in order to achieve hemostasis in the event of a massive hemorrhage.

8)  H&H PriMed Gauze—12’ of gauze packed into a very small package allowing for additional packing material over the hemostatic gauze should it be needed.

9)  4” Israeli Bandage—Absorbency, Compression, Focused pressure. An extremely versatile, modular bandage in a small package.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

joe08 March 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

Freck A right.

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joe08 March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am

freckin'
freck freck

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joe08 March 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

That is to say I read the companies philsophy and I agree with it. Especially the training part. There was times when I was in my EMT training they would say place a bandage here. I would ask how, or if I can and the responce I got alot of times was, you'll figure it out when it happens. And I did, but the nurse laughed at my first patient I brought bandaged up.

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Lance March 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Looks like a awesome first aid kit.

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Bill R. March 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

As a veteran, and in the Infantry, we took our medical training VERY seriously. I got out just as the IFAK started to become issue-but, I always carried some sort of trauma kit with me. Our company encouraged every single soldier, from lowly private up to the PSG to be at LEAST combat lifesaver certified, so most of us carried that kit around. We did refresher training every 6 months, but we did hip pocket training for wounds damn near all the time. When we were doing field training, we ALWAYS practiced the first aid part on wounded. Train like you fight….

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Fred March 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I'm attending the same class. Can't wait to the D.A.R.K if you make it out.

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Kathy S. March 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Hi everyone!
I am thrilled to see the article and endorsement of Dark Angel! I personally know the company owners and they have asked me to work with them (gratis because I believe in them and their intentions so much). Pocket Doc and his wife are sincerely trying to get the best IFAK/DARK/TCCC gear as well as the most current knowledge out there in order to save our guys' lives (and civilians who may come across accident victims). Dark Angel is a family business which is trying to keep the prices of the best equipment at the most reasonable prices they can. Kerry (no straight leg wannabe) writes detailed articles weekly describing tactical first response scenarios (as well as traveling about the country instructing Tac Med for Sig Sauer Academy). Although not in words yet, their heartfelt goal is that if their gear/knowledge can save even one of the good-guys' lives, they will have succeeded in their venture. Honestly. I'm currently compiling his Tacmed tips into a webpage format and might be helping out with a tacmed oriented blog for the company. I'll be doing this because this is a great couple who are trying their very best to get the best stuff into the right hands! Many Thanks again!

Kathy Sato

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David Reeder March 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Fred; looking forward to it! I'll advise if I'm going to make it down. I need to pow-wow with the Legion guys too, so I thought it would make a good trip. Even if I can't be there for the whole course, I can at least sit in on some of it and shoot some pictures, take some notes and generally make a nuisance of myself.

ALCON: Also, I neglected to mention colors. The D.A.R.K.s come in Multi-cam and coyote standard, but they can accommodate other colors with special orders (for instance, I may order mine in OD instead of coyote, not sure yet).

They run a great series of TacMed tips on there periodically (on Facebook I mean) which are also worth reading.

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David Reeder March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Bill; I'm glad to hear that. Make no mistake, I'm not denigrating the training of everyone, just the folks that blow it off. Not surprisingly, this hasn't been as frequently an infantry issue (in my limited experience as an instructor) as much as it has been other MOS and AFSCs…sadly it is FAR too commonplace in LE circles.

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HalP March 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm

It was a good rant…

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Z March 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I would say less than 50 % of people in my unit carry an IFAK. Its never in the same place ( i've seen it worn behind the shoulder by an NCO) or properly packed. The CSM put out a email stating where every pouch on your kit has to go. I had to take off pouches I use for medical supplies for TCCC and replace them with grenade pouches… idk any line medics carrying grenades right now. But of course when this ****** shows up for his "every one did a great job in the field speech" He's decked like an airsoft kid. Do your medic a favor! Create an sop to put your IFAK or w/e pouch you buy in the same place preferably on a side so we can access it if your prone or supine. The Blue CATs you stole from the medic supply room are for training dont put that thing in your IFAK. Also I've never seen one but I would love a internal framed ruck that has a center compartment that unzips like my LBT aid bag but has storage below for my personal gear and side compartment that do the same thing, and the top pouch on top of the center compartment should be a cls bag that can be ripped off. It should be designed to be worn with issued armor, have ammo pouches like that little ares bag, it would be great it was shaped like something natural and not a rectangle, have a hydration pocket you can access with out taking anything out of the ruck, keep the velcro to a minimum, be available with out the internal pockets for the aid bag ( cuz i've already been issued alot of them) and not cost a 1000 dollars. who ever comes up with that bag is the man, kirafu would probably make the best one.

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David Reeder March 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Z; great response. I am going to e-mail some of the folks I know in the industry to share your idea on the medic pack. With your permission, I'm also going to work that into another medic rant. DR

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Z March 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

By all means share the info and work the rant. I cant wait to read it! That being said if someone is gonna make this pack can you keep me in the loop? I would love to share ideas directly with the company producing something like this in more detail. I've got some more stuff id like to share with you that maybe you could write about. Some things about gear some about medical SOP and training especially pertaining to NG and reserve medics like myself. Send me an email I'd love to talk with you.

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GW March 7, 2012 at 9:57 am

Z,

We are putting our entire med line in the revamp mode in the secong qtr. I would love to hear your thoughts on med packs.

I am going to get some SF medics, AF PJs and some of the Stryker guys to help. we did this with our Fight Light line with great success. it always makes a better product when you gather expert feedback and actually listen to it.

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Z March 7, 2012 at 11:06 am

Holy cow, Tactical Tailor is my favorite kit. Haha yes! I would love to talk in detail about a medical pack. I'll email your website with my info and contact me when ever you want GW.

David Reeder March 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Z; I'll let you know when I do. I will probably use it as a preface to a follow-up like what majrod asked about below. Will advise. I forwarded your message to some folks in the industry. You should hear back from Tactical Tailor at a minimum (GW is great about following up on end user input) as well as Ares (the guys at Predator Intelligence Blog are diligent about responding as well) if you haven't already.

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Riceball March 7, 2012 at 9:52 am

Back when I was in the Reserves I always had my issued 1st aid kit on my 782 gear, I usually attached it to the strap on the top of my butt pack. Thinking of it now I can't say why I always had it on my gear since I was a non-03 (Marine Corps speak for anybody who's not a grunt and in the broader sense someone not assigned to a line company/combat arms) and I don't recall ever being told we had to have it but I always did. Unfortunately, we never had a regular Corpsman assigned to us since my unit was only a det but I think that sitting square in the small of my back it would have been easy enough to find.

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Jesse March 6, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Z. You should check out Ares Armor's Satellite Ruck. It has an external frame and not exactly the organization you are requesting. The top flap on the new Ruck can be removed and you can attached the Combat XII Pack (little ares bag?), which could make be that added storage needed. They have some good experience in EOD customization. Not sure on the internal frame aspect, but it doesn't seem to be too much of a stretch. I am sure someone can build what you need even if it isn't them.

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lightfighter March 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I carry a kit very similar to the one above but in addition it includes a space blanket and two 14 gage needles for needle thoracostamy

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Kathy S. March 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I'm really no one other than an ex-gov't/mil professional geekette who happens to be reasonably skilled at shooting and first aid, but one of the things I learned in my ExecProt/HighRisk cert course is that when you're in a country which doesn't allow foreigners to carry firearms like Mexico brrr or Lebanon ( you hire a licensed citizen of that country to be your walking holster ) but the IFAK/DARK kit becomes the piece of gear which gives you some confidence as a sidearm would. I carry a complete first response kit in my car and DARK kits in my daypack and range gear. Also, I'll find and post why Dark Angel decided not to include the ARS needle in the DARK kit (I have one in my DIY kit).

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SFC YOUNG March 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm

What gets me is the training the Red Cross provides when it comes ot any kind of trauma. They teach that you should only put a tourniquet on as a last resort. I was going through said training as a requirement for a personal security gig I had a few years ago. I raised my hand and said that the person is more likely to survive if you just throw one on at the start especially if the person is bleeding pretty good since you have no idea what kind of internal injury the individual may have. The reply was "If you do that the person will lose their limb." From here it went downhill quick. I asked if they would rather be missing their leg or be dead with both legs attached and well she didn;t like that too much. Also threw in the fact that you have ot leave a tourniquet on for a while before you have to worry about losing the limb and that you can get an individual to an ER well within that time. Then I threw out the whole. Mam have you ever been in a trauma situation or do you just teach it. Don't worry I still passed.

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Kathy S. March 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm

They still teach that? Sad – esp since the new TCCC guidelines are saving so many lives!

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Buckaroomedic March 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Huge difference between Red Cross first aid training and TCCC. Unfortunately, "Tourniquet as a last resort" is still the standard of care on the civilian side, although this is really starting to change. The next time a first aid instructor tells you that the pt will lose their limb if you apply a tourniquet, ask them how orthopedic surgeons can apply them while they are replacing knee joints for six hours. The last time I went through a contractor training program, the company actually brought in one of their medics who gave a very good TCCC overview.

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Joe March 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Buckaroomedic…I don't know where you work, but where I used to work as a medic…tourniquet in traumatic hemorrhage situations was the first line…but then we had really with it medical control…and as far as losing a limb…I know a PL from 2/75th that is alive and walking, albeit with a limp, because his medics went to the tourniquets first for both legs after he was struck by a motor vehicle while trying to cross the autobahn…just saying

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lightfighter March 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Much depends on the TQ itself and how it's applied. An extension cord might due for a time in extremis but the neurological outcome probably wont be good. A TQ of a minimum width i.e. 1.5" – 2" should help alleviate many problems.

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The Dude March 6, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I created the exact same pouch for myself using an older 3 mag m16 pouch. Even have the shears on the side but through the molle loops. And it sure as **** didn't cost me $170! Sorry but that price is insane.

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Kathy S. March 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I do know that Dark Angel is keeping their profit margin very low and they are trying to include the very best equipment in the DARK pack. Please believe me when I say K and L are sincerely trying to provide the best value.

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Neal March 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Are you The Dude from that 80s channel Youtube?

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Kathy S. March 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm
Kathy S. March 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm
Buckaroomedic March 6, 2012 at 10:59 pm

I hear ya, that is a lot of $$$. I did it way cheaper through Chinook Medical in Colorado. Granted, I had the trauma shears, the CAT and a HSGI Bleeder pouch already. That saved a lot of money.

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lithian March 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

Can anyone recommend a good first aid course beyond my basic Red Cross that I have to re certify in every year for work. Would love to take an EMT level course but cost and time are of course an issue as this will be on my dime.

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DeltaFox March 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

NCTI Has good programs around he country. They even have a 3 week accelerated EMT-B class. Thats who i went through when i was a civilian. I did the 8 week course, it was pretty intense. Then i went through the 18 Delta course, and my mind was BLOWN!

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majrod March 7, 2012 at 9:33 am

David – EXCELLENT article. I like how you promoted the product. Described what it did/consisted of and most important hit the pschology/training required to use it effectively.

Would have liked you to promote some medical training. Maybe a good subject for a follow on?

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David Reeder March 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Thank you sir! I've contacted a couple of places to ask for their input. If all goes well and with Matt's approval, I've asked a couple places I know deliver quality training to do a guest blog and opine. I would also recommend Dark Angel's facebook page. They do a weekly TacMed tip that I forward to all my guys. More to follow….thanks for the support!

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Jamie R. Wehmeyer March 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

The contents of the pouch and it's set up are priced correctly. Quality medical kit is not cheap. Not to mention how slim line this kit is. I can add up all of the contents off this kit and see that the profit margin that Kerry is getting from this is not exuberant. Keep in mind that this is a business. Plus I will pay 170 dollars any day to stay alive.

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Kathy S. March 7, 2012 at 11:59 am

Hi Jamie :) Thank you. I have two IFAKs I made myself about a year ago and the quality of stuff in the DARK kit is better than what I had, plus the tac med tips make it very worthwhile for me!

Best all and David, great objective article! Matt's got a fine team of writers here!

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Guest August 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Looks like I will be copying this pouch myself and supplying my own supplies to go in it. I bet it won't cost me anywhere near $170. :) (Might just sell them to others too…)

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LG March 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

I am not a medic but I saw one on t.v. Seriously I wanted to pass along a training resource that is seldom used. It applies mostly to National Guard and Reserves and is called the State Guard. Every state has one and they are an unpaid (unless activated) double volunteer (they dont get paid to train but they show up anyway). Most have medical units because they exist to support the state in the event of natural disasters. The ones I worked with were extremely professional in the medical arena (surgeons as sergeants) and loved helping soldiers learn the basic skills. Your local National Guard unit should be able to help you find them.

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Joe March 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Sounds a little like the "Blow Out" kit I carried in N Iraq in 04-05 when the mobilised reservists were still getting the BS bandage from the 80's. Never mind the crap Combat Lifetaker class taught by the idiots from WI. As a civilian paramedic, I contacted two friends, 1 a partner and training officer with the tactical medic team at the EMS Service I was employed by and the other, a former partner at an EMS service and currently an 18D instructor @ the school house. Between the 3 of us, I carried a top of the line blow out kit for both my tours, and instructed others on its use and made sure my guys had all the best stuff. Not bad for an 11B and "Parttime team medic".

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GW March 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Z,

send traffic to **@**************.***

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David Reeder March 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm

GW, Z, I'll e-mail you both.

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Doc Steel March 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Z, sounds like you just voiced what most of us medics have been saying for a while. Thanks

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Ron Stillwell March 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I'd buy it it's not worthless but useful

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david March 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm

WOW step on my toes rant. Thank you very much for the rant. I'm a k9 guy and to be honest never crossed my mind to carry any kind of kit for me or my dog. I have all kinds of goodies in my squad, front and trunk. Many of our tracks takes us (dog and I) into the sticks and many times with no back up.

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Dave March 21, 2012 at 4:41 am

Nice DA STYLE RANT-Keep it up and Keep it dry Dave!
Dave

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Rolex here March 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm
Kathy S. March 30, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I'm going out on the limb a bit here but I have been trying to keep a compendium of Dark Angel's TacMed tips and adding my knowledge (when I can) and images. It is NOT complete and it's still definitely a work-in-progress. So you can click on my name to get to it. I started doing this as a way to help Pocket Doc, have a way to archive the information so that people can use it and a way for me to study the material. Let me know what you think.

Thanks

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Zach June 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I would like to know the specs on the warbelt pictured. Thanks!

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