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AAR: Dark Angel Medical Tactical Aid

Posted by JFranz On August 12, 2013 ADD COMMENTS


“You’ll save far more lives with a good medical kit and knowledge than with a gun.”          -Kelly H.

Dark Angel Medical Tactical Aid Course
August 10 and 11, 2013
Monroe, NC
The above quote was spoken to me several years ago by a good friend and mentor, and it has always stuck with me.  The term “sheepdog” is the buzz word in the firearms world at the moment, and for good reason.  I think many who share a passion for firearms and shooting also have a desire to protect and preserve lives – their own, their loved ones, and even the innocent outside their immediate friends and family.  However, many believe they are 100% prepared to fulfill that desire to protect by simply carrying a firearm or other weapon and heightening “situational awareness.”  You will often hear the self defense minded justify the carrying of a weapon with the old cliché “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away,” and rightfully so.  But doesn’t the same apply to the paramedics?  And aren’t we more likely to come upon a family member or innocent victim, or even find ourselves in a life threatening medical emergency than a life threatening self defense situation?
I had the pleasure and privilege of hosting and attending Dark Angel Medical’s Tactical Aid Course in North Carolina.  This class reached capacity a good way in advance, and was attended by all walks of life.  We had building contractors, businessmen, law enforcement, and even medical professionals all in attendance.  Some flew in from as far away as Chicago.  Much like a firearms training class, we started with a “group hug” in which each student introduced themselves, told a little about their background, and their reasons for taking this class.  Kerry Davis, founder of Dark Angel Medical, also gave us a detailed description of his background, including his service to our country as a medic, and subsequent hospital experience.  It is adequate to say, he has a broad base of knowledge and skill in this area, and is very capable of conveying this knowledge to students in a way that is easy to digest, but not “dumbed down” or elementary.
The two days of instruction began with an overview of the human anatomy and physiology – the “why” of basic tactical aid.  Anyone who has attended an American Red Cross Basic CPR/First Aid class most likely remembers the “ABC’s” of first aid care, but as Kerry points out, they are missing the first and most important step – the “H” for hemorrhage.  Doesn’t really matter if the victim has an open airway and is breathing, or if his or her circulatory system is functioning if they are losing most or all of the medium that carries the oxygen from respiration and is moved by the circulatory system, does it?  There are also a few other considerations on the back end when rendering more advanced care to a casualty that Kerry covers quite well.
With the why covered, Kerry presented the tools used to achieve the desired result – the Dark Angel D.A.R.K. kit.  This kit is included in the price of the class, and is quite adequate for most medical emergencies encountered, whether on the battlefield, the street, or the home.  “Simplicity Under Stress” is Dark Angel’s trademarked motto, and this kit provides a great mix of tools for caring for common wounds in a small, compact package that fits easily on a plate carrier, belt, or range bag.  It even includes room to add other items an individual may deem necessary for their own needs.
The instruction turned to recognizing and identifying different injuries and the best methods and tools for treating them.  Most see the term “tactical” in the title of the class, and think it will be all about ballistic wounds.  While gunshot wounds were indeed covered in depth, this class was far broader in scope, and covered everything from environmental problems such as insect/snake bites and extreme cold and heat, fractures, lacerations, burns and even blast wounds.  Given recent events in Boston, which I believe were unfortunately a harbinger of things to come, the blast section was quite valuable.
The class room curriculum was completed with the most “tactical” aspect of the class.  We covered subjects like victim movement, weapon placement while carrying for victims, the importance of neutralizing threats before caring for victims, and a discussion on the difference between cover and concealment and how to best utilize them.
The last three hours were spent performing hands-on exercises with variety of life-saving equipment.  We were given ample time and instruction on the placement and applications of tourniquets, bandages, and splints, insertion or NPA’s to open airways, and even the proper application of hemostatic agents using a “meat log” with various shape and size deep tissue wounds.  Using data from real world bleed-out times, we even had a few timed tourniquet application competitions.

Money and time well spent.  Period.  This is my third exposure to first responder critical care, and this class reinforced, strengthened, and greatly furthered my knowledge of tactical aid.  With young, active children at home, this class has certainly given me piece of mind that I am better prepared to intervene and keep them alive in the event of a life-threatening injury.   That is probably the best thing to come from this class.  I also feel I am far better prepared to intervene for the good to help victims of shootings or other terror related events, or even events such as industrial or automobile accidents.  The class also gave me the physical tools in the form of a comprehensive yet simple aid kit.  I can also say that many of the real world videos and photographs shown in this class are stark reminders of how quickly things can go sideways, even in controlled environments.    I also greatly appreciate that Kerry gave us task that we can practice to keep these skills fresh should they ever be needed, much like Aesir Training does with shooting skills in our classes.  Just like shooting, many of these skills are perishable.  I will most certainly be reviewing my manual and practicing these tasks from time to time just in case.
Finally, a word about Kerry “Pocket Doc” Davis.  I have had the good fortune to interact and learn from many of the shooting industry’s best, and Kerry is without a doubt right up there with the best of them.  He is knowledgeable, approachable, and damn good at teaching.  He possess qualities of honor, integrity, duty and service that I so often see in those who serve our country so honorably and at the highest levels as Kerry has.  You can see that he has a passion for both helping save lives and helping others learn how to.  I would not hesitate for one second to give my time and money for the opportunity to learn from him again, and strongly encourage anyone interested in these important skills to do the same.
See you at the range,

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