Thorough out the years, I have attended various training classes from off road driving/recovery to advanced level SCUBA diving classes. Hands down the most important training I have taken to date has been medical training.

In my early college years I completed my EMT-Basic certification and later attended a Wilderness First Responder class taught by Wilderness Medical Institute. While both classes were excellent, the downside was cost and length of time required (8 days to a semester).


An alternative to this is the Direct Action Response Training (DART) by Dark Angel Medical, a mobile training company and also sells emergency medical gear.

I originally took the DART class at the Sig Academy in New Hampshire about four years ago. Considering that I now live in the DC metro area (a prime terrorism target), I felt it was a good opportunity to refresh my emergency medical skills, as medical knowledge and techniques are always evolving.

Who should take this class?

Simply, everyone. If you have a pulse, you should attend this class. No medical experience of any kind is required to attend. You are more likely to encounter a medical problem than anything else in life. Car wreck? Eledery family member falling down the stairs? Cut yourself with a knife while preparing dinner? Sound familiar?

So often I see people fixate on the latest gadget, gizmo and taticool gear and yet have no clue how to stop major blood loss or maintain an airway.

All too often people resort to obtaining their training from the internet. While the internet provides a good medium for researching gear, etc…getting first aid advice is just a bad idea. As we all know, you never really know who you are getting advice from. Are they an experienced battlefield navy medic or a weekend warrior who repairs copy machines during the week? Personally I would rather pay money to get advice and obtain knowledge from a subject matter expert who is medically certified and has real life hands on experience.

Class Details

Class location: Roanoke, VA

Length: 2 days long; ~16 hours

20+ students from all over the US attended; I noted 6 women in the group which I was glad to see.

Instructor: Ross Francis

Ross was a Navy Corpsman attached to a Marine Scout Sniper unit. His experience overseas gave us real life examples that helped bring the home the reality of what we were learning. He presented material with an effective teaching manner mixed in with humor to keep things light. We were exposed to a massive amounts of information in a short amount of time and his stories and humor kept things moving along.

What did the class cover?

Each student was given a class workbook, a “Ten Tac-Med Tips” and a Dark Angel Sticker.


All training aids were provided for the class (tourniquets, training dummies, bandages, etc).

This 2 day class covered a wide variety of topics including:

  • Responding to Stress
  • Body Alarm Response
  • Combat Mindset
  • Scene Safety
  • Basic Anatomy and Physiology
  • Treatment of Injuries
  • Emergent Injuries (gunshots, stabbings and amputations)
  • Treating shock
  • Environment injuries
  • Victim movement: I learned several new techniques for moving people that I had not seen before. The hands on demo provided by Ross was extremely helpful.
  • Triage concepts and mass casualty care

Dark Angel D.A.R.K. Kit


Medical Kit (IFK), how to store and use the items in the IFK


-Tourniquets (no Nancy, your arm or leg will not magically fall off if you put on a tourniquet)

-Pressure Bandage/dressings

-Chest seal applications

-NPA usage

-Hemostatic Agents and their use

-Using a space blanket to treat shock

Differences between trauma and Boo-Boo kits. I see this often online where people incorrectly store their trauma kit with their Boo Boo kit. Your aspirin and bandaids should not be in your trauma kit. When you need items from your trauma kit you don’t time to dig thru unnecessary items. Nobody needs an aspirin when they are bleeding out.

Another bonus for attending this class was being able to actually try out different tourniquets and other trauma gear in the classroom environment to see what works best for you. Getting second hand information off the internet about emergency gear effectiveness isn’t a viable option.

At the end of the presentations, Ross discussed further medical training opportunities (outside of DA) for people to attend, and online resources and recommended readings to learn more from. I appreciated that attention to the continuing education aspect.

On the second day we had a block of time set aside to practice at a various skill stations. Talking and reading about a subject is fine up to a point, then you need to get hands on time.



We also had various scenarios with a “patient” that required each student to work through the care matrix and treat the patients injuries.


In summary, this is hands down the best medical training for an average person to take. It doesn’t require a length amount of time or money and gives you a solid foundation of emergency medical fundamentals that one can use in a small emergency (i.e. finger laceration) to large scale emergencies (mass shootings, terrorism).

And if the above review hasn’t convinced you take the course….Kerry Davis, the owner of Dark Angel keeps a tally of lives saved due to the training and gear that they sell. As of 08/21/16, that number is 54! Real life saving from training received.

Will you save #56?

Only if you get the training…


Wait…cancel that. As I was writing this review, I received an email from the Dark Angel stating that ANOTHER person was saved as a result of someone taking their class….

Read more about it.