Dark Angel Medical has come out with a new PLUS version of its excellent Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini™ EDC trauma kit. The Pocket DARK Mini PLUS is an upgrade to the regular Mini. It has a HyFin® Vent Compact Chest Seal Twin Pack instead of the 2’ length of duct tape that comes with the regular Mini.
The Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini PLUS maintains the Dark Angel Medical “Simplicity Under Stress®” minimalist med kit approach and the ultra-compact form factor of the regular Mini. It measures only 4″ H x 2.5″ W x 1″ D and weighs just 4.8 oz. Designed for situations where you don’t have room for a larger kit, the Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini PLUS has everything you need to “Stop the Bleeding and Start the Breathing.”
The Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini PLUS comes in a resealable tear-open vacuum-sealed three-mil thick bag that provides quick access to all of the components. It includes a SWAT-T™ tourniquet, QuikClot® Bleeding Control Dressing hemostatic gauze, HyFin® Vent Compact Chest Seal Twin Pack; and one pair of nitrile (latex-free) gloves for protection from blood and other bodily fluids.
Gloves are always the first thing on and the last thing off. Nitrile gloves are more resistant to puncture and chemicals than latex gloves and don’t cause the allergic reactions that latex may. 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.
Top Two Causes of Preventable Trauma Deaths
The number one cause of preventable trauma deaths 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 from bleeding is a death that could have been prevented.
Tension pneumothorax is the second leading cause of preventable deaths. It’s 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. It’s 100% fatal if not treated. The only treatment when it occurs is a needle thoracostomy (needle decompression) performed by skilled medical personnel.
Tourniquets have emerged as the standard of care in the tactical environment due to their ease of use, rapid application, and complete stoppage of blood loss. Current protocol considers the tourniquet an initial lifesaving intervention to control massive hemorrhage from an extremity.
The old dogma of “save a life, lose a limb” has been proven to be false. A tourniquet can remain in place for two to four hours. Thousands of combat veterans are walking around today with all of their limbs because their lives were saved by tourniquet use.
In scientific studies, the SWAT-T (Stretch, Wrap and Tuck Tourniquet) has proven 100% effective in occluding blood flow in upper and lower extremities. It has also been successfully fielded in combat theaters.
The SWAT-T is a medical multi-tool that may be employed as a tourniquet, pressure dressing, occlusive device, elastic bandage, sling and swathe, and more. It can be successfully employed for higher axillary and groin applications.
The SWAT-T can be employed for pediatric and K-9 applications, where other tourniquets cannot. It should be noted that North American Rescue states that the C-A-T® has been shown to be effective on limbs as small as five inches in circumference.
The flat, compact form factor and light weight of the SWAT-T, as well as its multi-purpose capability, make it ideal for inclusion in a pocket trauma kit. Although it’s inherently simple to apply, self-application can be more difficult than with other popular tourniquets, but adequate user training will largely overcome this.
If you are going to practice applying your tourniquet (as you should), you need to use a dedicated practice tourniquet, not your “real world” one. A blue SWAT-T Training Tourniquet is available. Although any SWAT-T can be used for training (they’re inexpensive), having a blue tourniquet will designate it as a trainer.
It should also be noted that one can also increase their capability in a traumatic incident by carrying an additional tourniquet on their person. That said, carrying any one of the CoTCCC (Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care) recommended devices, along with the SWAT-T included in this kit, can only give one an advantage with extremity hemorrhages. Like the old military saying goes, “Two is one and one is none.” Both the C-A-T and the SOF®TT-W can be purchased separately on the Dark Angel Medical website.
QuikClot Bleeding Control Dressing
Not all wounds lend themselves to tourniquet use. For bleeding that can’t be stopped only by compression and isn’t amenable to tourniquet placement, a hemostatic (clotting) agent should be used.
Hemostatic agents (compounds that promote clotting) are designed to stop bleeding more quickly than traditional direct pressure. This doesn’t mean they are without controversy. While the general consensus is that these agents are a valuable addition to the effort to stop blood loss, some see less value in their use.
The overall answer may be that, when it comes to these products, they must be thought of as an addition to the means to the end. No hemostatic agent alone can stop significant bleeding. All must be coupled with direct pressure and the principles of blood pressure, blood flow, blood clotting, and most importantly, proper training.
When applied in conjunction with pressure, the product can accelerate clotting and ideally stop bleeding. Such agents work very well as the material used to pack deep wounds. When combined with surface pressure or a compression bandage, the results are almost always favorable.
Controlling blood loss can be a major problem for some individuals, particularly those who take blood thinners and those who suffer from inherited or acquired bleeding or clotting disorders. The blood in these individuals doesn’t clot quickly. Even the smallest cut can be a real problem. Hemostatic agents may be a valuable addition to controlling bleeding in these patients.
Hemostatic agents 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 in the junctional areas of the body. (think of where body parts meet the trunk, i.e. base of the neck, armpits and groin). They’re not for use in penetrating thoracic or head trauma. They can be used for deep lacerations if 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.
QuikClot products are packaged in different forms. QuikClot Bleeding Control Dressing is a 3″ x 4′ long length of Z-folded hemostatic gauze. It’s perfect for narrow wound channels and doesn’t take up a lot of room.
Current QuikClot products are Kaolin-based and don’t create heat. Kaolin is a clay mineral. It works by activating the body’s own clotting cascade. The kaolin is impregnated onto the nonwoven polyester/rayon gauze for easy application. There have been many clinical and pre-clinical studies have shown the efficacy and safety of QuikClot products.
The CoTCCC recommends QuikClot Combat Gauze® as the hemostatic agent of choice for compressible hemorrhage not amenable to tourniquet use.
HyFin Vent Compact Chest Seal Twin Pack
Laypersons can treat penetrating chest injuries (sucking chest wounds) by the application of an occlusive dressing. These chest seals may slow the development of tension pneumothorax and allow for better breathing. Any penetrating chest wounds need to be treated.
Occlusive dressings are designed to form a barrier and prevent outside air from entering the pleural cavity from an open pneumothorax (sucking chest wound). Two seals are needed for a gunshot wound to the chest — one for the entrance wound and another for the exit wound.
The HyFin Vent Compact Chest Seal Twin Pack includes two vented chest seals. They feature three-channel pressure relief vents, as well as an advanced gel adhesive that sticks well to blood, sweat, and hair. They have 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.
Although the duct tape in the regular Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini is multi-use and can be utilized along with the vacuum bag to make an expedient occlusive dressing, a purpose designed chest seal, such as the HyFin chest seals in the Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini PLUS version is best option for treatment of an open pneumothorax.
Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini Pouch
Dark Angel Medical offers an optional pouch for the Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini PLUS and regular Mini. The pouch is constructed of a lightweight ripstop nylon cloth with a zipper closure along the entire opening. Each zipper has a red nylon paracord pull-tab (on the black pouch). The pouch alone measures 5.25″ L x 3.25″ W x 0.25″ D and weighs 1.3 oz. It’s available in black and MultiCam® if ordered with the kit. It’s available in black only if ordered separately.
Training is Essential
Having the necessary tools is only part of the equation. Equipment is only as good as your training. Basic emergency medical training should cover the entire spectrum of lifesaving skills. And like shooting, they’re perishable skills.
Emergency medical training should be part of the basic skill sets of everyone. The time to learn how to use a trauma kit isn’t when someone is bleeding out.
The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) and Stop the Bleed® are excellent resources that can direct you to courses in your area.
Dark Angel Medical offers their outstanding two-day Direct Action Response Training (D.A.R.T.) course at various locations around the country, which gives all participants BCON (Bleeding Control) certification from the American College of Surgeons.It also provides 16 hours of CEU’s, per CECBEMS, to NREMT EMT-Basics/Advanced and Paramedics. I took the D.A.R.T. course at Scottsdale Gun Club and highly recommend it. Dark Angel Medical also offers a free online introductory course designed to teach the basics of bleeding control, as well as numerous trauma kits, first aid kits and components.
The founders of Dark Angel Medical are US military veterans. They have over 25 years of combined medical training and have worked in both the military and civilian healthcare fields.
Another useful source is the online learning platform Deployed Medicine , which is used by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) “to trial new innovative learning models aimed at improving readiness and performance of deployed military medical personnel.” Learning assets include the standardized Tactical Combat Casualty Care All Service Members Course (TCCC ASM) curriculum developed by the Joint Trauma System, which is part of the DHA.
Summing it Up
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. But the reality is that if it’s not convenient to carry on your person, the odds are that you won’t have it with you when you need it. When life may be measured in seconds, having a trauma kit in your car or range bag isn’t enough. The life you save may be your own.
The Dark Angel Medical Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini PLUS is an outstanding low-profile trauma kit for everyday carry. As with all Dark Angel Medical products, it has been very well thought out.
MSRP for the Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini PLUS is $79.99. That’s only $14.00 more than the regular Mini. MSRP for the optional Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini Pouch is $14.99.
The Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini PLUS includes the Dark Angel Medical “Kit for Life” Guarantee. If you ever have to use a Dark Angel Medical trauma kit in a life-threatening situation, simply provide official documentation and the unused portion of the kit and Dark Angel Medical will inspect, replace, re-pack and re-seal any of the components used free of charge. Proof of purchase required.
Dark Angel Medical is a supplier to the US military, Federal law enforcement, local law enforcement and civilians. DUNS #: 078472585. CAGE Code: 6R7W4.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up 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.