S.W.A.T. Magazine is all about preparedness and individual responsibility. Preparedness requires the proper mindset, training, and tools. It doesn’t just happen. It’s a way of life and takes some effort. And it’s about preparing for possibilities, not just probabilities.
Everyone should carry a med kit. If you have made the choice to responsibly carry a firearm for defense, it’s irresponsible not to have the tools to render aid as well. And even if you don’t carry a firearm, you still should carry a med kit. It’s your duty as a responsible citizen. You’re not prepared if you don’t. No matter how fast the response of emergency medical services (EMS), bystanders will always be first on the scene.
A med kit should be lightweight, compact, and easy to use. It needs to be convenient to carry on your person. When life is measured in seconds, having a med kit in your car or range bag isn’t enough. The life you save may be your own. With the Dark Angel Medical Ankle Trauma Kit, carrying a med kit with you at all times is easier than ever.
It’s a well-known axiom in combat medicine that the complexity of an individual first aid kit (IFAK) is inversely proportional to a manufacturer’s or operator’s actual combat medical experience.
The concept behind all Dark Angel med kits is best summed up by their motto: “Simplicity Under Stress.” To quote the company, “This kit has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Life is hard. Keep your med kit simple.” I couldn’t agree more.
The founders of Dark Angel Medical, Kerry “Pocket Doc” Davis and Lynn “Hot Sauce” Davis, both veterans, have over 25 years of combined medical training and work in both the military and civilian healthcare fields.
TOP CAUSES OF PREVENTABLE DEATH FROM TRAUMA
The number one cause of preventable death in trauma is exsanguination (severe loss of blood). Approximately 20% of people who have died from traumatic injuries could have survived with quick bleeding control. The only thing more tragic than a death is a death that could have been prevented.
The second leading cause of preventable death is tension pneumothorax, the progressive build-up of air within the pleural space between the lung and the chest wall. Tension pneumothorax can develop rapidly (although normally over one to two hours) and is 100% fatal if not treated. The only treatment is a needle thoracostomy (needle decompression) performed by skilled medical personnel.
DARK ANGEL MEDICAL ANKLE TRAUMA KIT
The Dark Angel Medical Ankle Trauma Kit offers everything you need to treat these two major causes of preventable death from trauma in a compact, easy-to-carry, and concealable package that fits comfortably on your ankle.
The kit contains:
1 Elastic Nylon Ankle Rig
1 package of Hemostatic Gauze (QuikClot® Bleeding Control Dressing or HemCon® ChitoGauze® XR Pro)
1 Pair of Nitrile Gloves
1 NAR Mini Responder 4-inch ETD Emergency Trauma Dressing
1 Pair of Hyfin® Vent Compact Chest Seals
1 Tourniquet (C-A-T® Gen 7, Black is standard with option to substitute a SOFTT-W®, Black at no additional cost)
ANKLE TRAUMA KIT ELASTIC NYLON RIG/POUCH
The Ankle Trauma Kit features open-top construction with bungee cord retention of the medical components. The bungee cord is equipped with easy-to-grip red pull tabs that provide quick removal of components.
The ankle rig has four pockets made of two layers of heavy-duty elastic cloth. There is a compartment for a tourniquet (C-A-T or SOFTT-W compatible) with a full-length sweat guard, and two separate compartments for other items (such as hemostatic gauze, compact pressure bandages, chest seals, or gloves). There’s also a small pocket for a marker or chest decompression needle. The ankle band features hook-and-loop closure and is adjustable to accommodate a wide range of ankle sizes. It is available in black only.
C-A-T AND SOFTT-W TOURNIQUETS
Although many dogmas relating to tourniquet use persist, tourniquets have re-emerged in Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) as the standard of care in the tactical environment due to their ease of use, rapid application, and stoppage of blood loss.
The Ankle Trauma Kit comes standard with a Combat Application Tourniquet® (C-A-T) Gen 7, with the option to substitute it with a SOF Tactical Tourniquet® Wide (SOFTT-W) at no extra cost at time of order. The C-A-T and the SOFTT are the only two tactical tourniquets the U.S. military Committee of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) recommends.
Although both are outstanding tourniquets, I went with the C-A-T for the simple reason that it’s the most widely issued tourniquet to first responders and is standard issue to the U.S. military. More people are familiar with it and trained in its use.
The C-A-T has had a number of recent enhancements. Its strap now features a red elliptical tip to aid users in threading it. It has a polymer windlass and reinforced windlass clip that is secured with Velcro®. The windlass rod is twice as strong. The windlass clip has a highly visible security tab and includes a writable area to record time of application.
QUIKCLOT & CHITOGAUZE HEMOSTATIC DRESSINGS
Hemostatic dressings are employed for compressible (external) hemorrhage not amenable to limb tourniquet use or as an adjunct to tourniquet removal when evacuation time is anticipated to be longer than two hours. They’re primarily employed to control life-threatening bleeds. They’re not for use in penetrating thoracic or head trauma. They can be used for deep lacerations as long as pleural or peritoneal space hasn’t been breached. The latest generation of hemostatic products performs significantly better than earlier generations. The shelf life of these products is related to sterility, not efficacy.
The Ankle Trauma Kit comes with either Z-Medica® QuikClot Bleeding Control Dressing or Hemcon ChitoGauze XR Pro. QuikClot and ChitoGauze are both CoTCCC approved hemostatic dressings and have been proven safe and effective. They’re irrigated out of the wound at the hospital during treatment of the wound.
They work by different modalities. Current QuikClot products are Kaolin-based. They don’t create heat. Kaolin is a clay mineral. It works by activating the body’s own clotting cascade. ChitoGauze is chitosan-based. Chitosan is derived from the material that makes up shrimp shells. It forms a gel-like clot when it comes into contact with blood.
NAR MINI RESPONDER ETD
A pressure bandage (emergency trauma dressing) is utilized to direct and maintain pressure on a wound with the goal of creating enough pressure to stop the bleeding. It reinforces wound packing. When utilizing any pressure bandage, beware of tourniquet effect, which can occur if the bandage is applied too tightly. Always assess distal pulse after application.
The NAR Mini Responder ETD included with the Ankle Trauma Kit is North American Rescue’s most compact compression bandage. It’s designed to provide an effective pressure bandage when reduced packaging size is required. The bandage is flat folded and features both hook-and-loop as well as a C-Clip securing device. The 42-inch (unstretched) elastic bandage has a 4×6-inch non-adherent sterile ABD (Abdominal Pads) pad.
HYFIN VENT COMPACT CHEST SEALS
Laypersons can treat penetrating chest injuries (sucking chest wounds) with the application of an occlusive dressing. These chest seals may slow the development of tension pneumothorax and allow for better breathing. Both entrance and exit wounds need to be treated. CoTCCC guidelines specify a vented or three-sided dressing as the first choice and non-vented as second choice.
The HyFin Vent Compact Chest Seals that come with the Ankle Trauma Kit feature three-channel pressure relief vents, as well as an advanced gel adhesive that sticks well to blood, sweat, and hair. It has a large red tab for quick peel-and-stick application and “burping” the seal if needed. If the patient gets worse, the seal should be burped to ensure clogging hasn’t occurred.
ARS CHEST DECOMPRESSION NEEDLE
The Ankle Trauma Kit doesn’t come standard with a chest decompression needle, for several reasons. Needle decompression is an advanced skill and the kit was designed so it can be safely and effectively employed by anyone with a small amount of medical training.
If you have the training and the need, a “chest dart” can easily be added to the kit. Dark Angel Medical will add an ARS® Chest Decompression Needle, 14 Gauge, 3.25 inches to the Ankle Kit for $10 extra.
The ARS Chest Decompression Needle features a rugged needle/catheter protective tube and easy-open container for quick access. It also features an easy ID textured twist top with clip and capless flash chamber for immediate confirmation of needle placement. It’s not much bigger than a standard pen.
Personal Protective Equipment is essential. The Ankle Trauma Kit comes with a pair of nitrile gloves, which are a must in any kit. Gloves should be the first thing on and the last thing off.
Nitrile gloves are latex-free. A significant percentage of the population has a latex allergy, which is a sensitivity to proteins found in latex. Latex allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe and life threatening.
Even the best med kit is of limited use unless you have been trained how to use it. Emergency medical training should be part of the basic skill sets of every firearms owner. In fact, it should be part of the basic skill sets of everyone. The time to learn how to use a trauma kit is not when someone is bleeding out.
Dark Angel Medical offers an excellent two-day Tactical Aid Course at various locations around the country. There are no prerequisites for the class. The classes are nationally accredited and count toward 16 hours of refresher training for nationally registered EMTs and Paramedics through CECBEMS. Every student receives a certification in basic Bleeding Control (BCON).
BleedingControl.Org, an initiative of the American College of Surgeons and the Hartford Consensus, is another excellent resource that can direct you to courses in your area.
The Ankle Trauma Kit is an outstanding low-profile IFAK for everyday carry. As with all Dark Angel Medical products, it has been well thought out. Although the ankle rig doesn’t come filled with the included medical components, it’s straightforward and simple to do.
The ankle rig is ruggedly constructed. The red pull tabs are easy to locate under stress or in low light and make removal of medical components simple and quick. I found the Ankle Trauma Kit comfortable to wear. It’s lightweight. You’ll soon forget it’s there.
The Ankle Trauma Kit is covered by Dark Angel Medical’s “Med Kit for Life” program. If you ever use one of their kits to save a life, provide them with official documentation and they will replace anything you have used for free, with free shipping.
The Dark Angel Ankle Trauma Kit is priced at $135.99. The ankle rig may be purchased separately without medical components for $44.99. The Ankle Trauma Kit is made in the USA.
DARK ANGEL MEDICAL, LLC