November 27, 2020

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

Dark Angel Medical Ankle Trauma Kit

Spotter Up is all about becoming the best Chessmen we can be. Preparedness and individual responsibility are key components of this. 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 trauma kit. It’s our duty as a responsible citizens. We’re not prepared if we don’t. No matter how fast the response of emergency medical services (EMS), bystanders will always be first on the scene.

You’re your own first responder. You need be prepared and able to treat life-threatening injuries. Time is life. Seconds count.

The national average response time for a Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance in the US is 10 minutes. Paramedics are 12 to 15 minutes. A person can bleed out before then. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.

No trauma kit will do you any good if you don’t have it with you when you need it. Like most people, I hate carrying stuff around, but I do recognize the need for carrying a trauma kit.

Selecting an everyday carry (EDC) trauma kit involves making compromises without neglecting essentials. It needs to 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 trauma kit in the your vehicle or range bag isn’t enough. The life you save may be your own.

An ankle pouch can be a great way to discreetly carry a personal trauma kit. Ankle trauma kits and pouches are available from a number of companies. I have found ankle trauma kits to be very practical in many situations.  

Dark Angel Medical provided me with its Ankle Trauma Kit for evaluation. I have evaluated Dark Angel Medical trauma kits in the past and have found all of them to be very well thought out and well made. The Dark Angel Medical Ankle Trauma Kit is no exception.

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 Medical trauma kits is best summed up by the company’s 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 32 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, which is the progressive build-up of air within the pleural space between the lung and the chest wall. Although tension pneumothorax normally develops over one to two hours, it can develop rapidly and is 100% fatal if not treated. The only treatment is a needle thoracostomy (needle decompression) performed by skilled medical personnel.

Fully loaded Dark Angel Medical Ankle Kit Pouch. It has a compartment for a tourniquet (C-A-T or SOFTT-W compatible), two separate compartments acceptable for other items such as hemostatic gauze, compact pressure bandages, gloves, chest seals, etc. An additional small pocket will hold either a marker or a chest decompression needle.

Dark Angel Medical Ankle Trauma Kit

The Dark Angel Medical Ankle Trauma Kit is designed to provide 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 Ankle Trauma Kit comes standard with:

1 Elastic Nylon Ankle Pouch

1 package of Hemostatic Gauze (QuikClot® Bleeding Control Dressing or HemCon® ChitoGauze® XR Pro)

1 Pair of Nitrile Gloves

1 H&H Mini Compression Bandage (My kit was an earlier kit that came wit 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 Kit Pouch

The Dark Angel Medical Ankle Kit Pouch features elasticized nylon 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 Kit Pouch 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.

The Ankle Kit Pouch may also be purchased separately from the kit. It’s available in your choice of black or Coyote Brown.

Dark Angel Medical Ankle Trauma Kit comes standard with everything you need to treat the two major causes of preventable death from trauma. Although my kit came with a NAR Mini Responder ETD, a H&H Mini Compression Bandage is standard. The ARS Chest Decompression Needle is available as an additional option for those with advanced training.

C-A-T & SOFTT-W Tourniquet

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. Both th C-A-T and the SOFTT are recommended by the US military Committee of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC).

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 US. 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’s 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.

Darrk Angel Medical Ankle Trauma Kit includes elastic nylon Ankle Kit Pouch  with hook & loop closure to fit a wide range of ankle sizes. It is also available separately without medical components.

The Ankle Trauma Kit comes with your choice of 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, but has had its proteins denatured so there’s no risk of allergic reaction. It forms a gel-like clot when it comes into contact with blood.

H&H Mini Compression Bandage 

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 Ankle Trauma Kit comes standard with an H&H Mini Compression Bandage. At the time of writing, a NAR Mini Responder ETD (Emergency Trauma Dressing) is being substituted until the H&H is back in stock. My Ankle Trauma Kit came with the NAR Mini Responder ETD.

Both are outstanding pressure bandages They’re designed to provide users with an effective pressure bandage when reduced packaging size is required. Both come come in a sterile, vacuum-sealed 5 mil barrier bag and flat-folded to create a small tight package. The elastic bandages  strong enough to provide compression to wounds on any location and have a 4×6-inch non-adherent sterile ABD (Abdominal) pad.

Elastic bungee cords on the Dark Angel Medical Ankle Kit Pouch keep medical components secure. Red pull tabs similar to the pull tabs on open top magazine pouches allow quick and easy access.

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.

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.

Dark Angel Medical Ankle Kit Pouch is available in your choice of black or Coyote Brown. Photo courtesy Dark Angel Medical.

Nitrile Gloves

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 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.

My Thoughts

The Ankle Trauma Kit is an excellent low-profile trauma kit 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 Kit Pouch 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.

Although ankle carry can be a great way to carry a trauma kit, it doesn’t work well with all pants. Although the Ankle Trauma Kit isn’t bulky, in so far as ankle kits go, wearing it with slim-fit or tapered pants can be a problem and may also print. 

Options are always good to have. Ankle carry is an additional option for carrying a trauma kit. There are times when it’s the best option.

As with all Dark Angel Medical trauma kits, 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’ll replace anything you have used for free, with free shipping too!

The Dark Angel Medical Ankle Trauma Kit is priced at $149.99. The Ankle Kit Pouch is $59.99 when purchased separately without medical components. The Ankle Trauma Kit and Ankle Kit Pouch are made in the USA.

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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