“Simplicity under stress.” This is the motto of Kerry Davis (Pocket Doc) of Dark Angel Medical, creator of the D.A.R.K. Kerry first introduced the D.A.R.K. to the industry as a small, compact medical kit that included everything you need and none of what you don’t. So what makes the Gen2 different? The Gen2 consists of all the great aspects as the Gen1 did, but improves on the portions in which it was lacking.
The second generation of Direct Action Response Kit (or D.A.R.K.) for short, is made up of four main parts: the pouch, the insert, the tourniquet, and the trauma sheers. The real and only difference between the first and second generation is the pouch itself. Made by First Spear, the gen 2 pouch is made of 1000D Cordura and consists of one main pouch and a new, secondary pouch dedicated for the CAT tourniquet. Instead of elastic bands (Gen1) MOLLE has been added to the sides of the pouch for easy and secure storage of the trauma sheers. The same top flap system used in the first generation is back in the second, yet this time around the pull strap is a less conspicuous color. Inside the main pouch a quick access ribbon was added for fast and efficient access to the D.A.R.K. insert. Finally, a metal grommet was added to the bottom of the pouch, which functions as a weep hole.
Knowing that First Spear is a company with an outstanding track record and quite the reputation is producing the new pouch, there is a certain expectation one might have in regards to their products. Being that I have had the opportunity to run the pouch through the paces, I can honestly say First Spear does not disappoint. All exterior hems are folded over and double-sewn to ensure product longevity. The nylon MOLLE webbing and MOLLE straps are both secured by heavy duty, triple-stitched thread that offers the durability a heavily-used product needs. The main pouch is constructed extremely well, and contains the same top flap that the first generation had. The secondary pocket (tourniquet pocket) is sewn into the hems of the primary pocket and is done very well. All in all the integrity of the pouch is top notch, and proved to be able to stand up the a high amount of abuse I have put it through already.
Three key innovative aspects really stand out on the second generation pouch, the first being what Dark Angel Medical calls their quick deployment lanyard. This lanyard is operated by the user pulling up in order to efficiently access the D.A.R.K. insert, and takes a very small amount of effort to stage. By simply draping the nylon lanyard into the pouch prior to sliding the D.A.R.K. insert in, the lanyard acts as a lever when pulled and virtually shoots the insert into the operators hand. The second innovative aspect of the new pouch is the use of a front pocket designated for a tourniquet. If you follow the Pocket Doc’s train of thought, or any other combat medic’s ideals, staging your medical equipment is vital for efficient use and application. The new tourniquet pouch allows the end user to stage the tourniquet the way they deem fit, all while protecting the product from the elements. Finally, the third new innovative aspect is by far the smallest of the three, literally. The metal grommet at the bottom of the pouch may seem like just a nice addition but in actuality, I believe it is one of the more important new features. Today’s theaters of war are fought in a portion of the world were sand and dirt often play a large role in weapon and gear malfunction. Although the cap style lid of the pouch was designed to assist in keeping foreign materials out, mistakes sometimes happen. Let’s pretend this grommet is not present and the pouch is secured to your rig and the insert was taken out to be used. Now let’s consider it a possibility that sand or dirt makes it way into the pouch in a large quantity while you are in the field, how it got there is not important. Under stress (whether it be from rounds being sent your way, or from the stress of having to recently deal with a trauma victim), you go to re-holster the contents of your DARK insert only to find the foreign material . Short of using your hand as a shovel, the only way to get the sand or dirt out would be to do a headstand. With the added frustration (fog of war) you drop the kit to tend to other matters, and are now left with no medical supplies on your person. Although this scenario seems like a very specific set of instances, it is very possible and shows the importance of a weep hole.
This is really the key aspect of the second generation pouch, and is what really allows the pouch to stand out from the first. The key word for the second generation pouch is staging, and cannot be emphasized enough. The quick access lanyard allows for quick access of the insert without direct line of sight (as seen in the video). The theory behind the lanyard also will help to access the insert if blood or other bodily fluids have lubricated your hands making it difficult to get a hold of the insert while seated fully in the pouch. The new exterior secondary pouch dedicated for the tourniquet allows for easy staging. Staging of medical products is very important, especially when using a tourniquet. Due to the nature of the application of a tourniquet, very little time can be spared when applying the product. By being able to stag and access the product precious time can be saved, which may ultimately save a life. The exterior MOLLE webbing works very well as a place to store your trauma sheers, chem lights, chest decompression needles,markers, and for attaching other pouches.
One may believe that the integrity of the Front Site Post review of this product may be compromised due to the relationship we have with the Pocket Doc. Still, I cannot speak highly enough of the Direct Action Response Kit, because I know of the time, effort, and theory that went behind even the smallest of details. Although I subscribe to many of Kerry Davis’ teachings, I would not sacrifice the reputation of FSP on this product. The D.A.R.K. is the smallest, compact, and complete trauma kit on the market, and with the newly designed pouch it is the most practical. Although I speak highly of the product I was able to find flaw. While staging my tourniquet in its designated pouch I found that I was able to seat the product fairly far into the pocket. After seating it fully, I attempted to give it a good tug, only to find it was very difficult to pull out. This was due to the fact that the ‘U’ shaped windlass retainer was getting caught inside the pocket. To remedy the problem I cut a small piece of foam and pushed it to the bottom of the pocket which prevents me from seating the tourniquet too far, and keeping the windlass retainer out of the pocket.
Dark Angel Medical’s Direct Action Response Kit is made and assembled right here in the United States. If you would like to learn more about the product, please visit Dark Angel Medical’s website by clicking here.
If you would like to learn more about Dark Angel Medical, click here.
You can read the Front Site Post review of the first generation D.A.R.K. after the jump.