Dark Angel Medical - DART2 @ NWTF, Chase, MI. June 22-23, 2019

#1
AAR for Dark Angel Medical’s DART2

Place and date:

Northern Woods Training Facility
Chase, MI
June 22-23, 2019

Weather:

Gorgeous weather. Mid 70s, bright sunny days. NWTF is out in the woods and offered a canopy of tree coverage. Class was primarily conducted outside or open air classroom building.

Equipment:

All training medical equipment was provided. This included CAT tourniquets, chest seals, bandages, QuikClot gauze, gloves and space blanket in an IFAK pouch to carry for scenario training. The classroom portion also utilized additional equipment including various types of tourniquets, SAM splints, pelvic slings, and Dark Angel’s Wound Cube. The only required equipment was to bring was 6 pairs or clothes that could be destroyed along with compression underwear for scenario training.

My background:

I’m just a citizen gun carrier interested in self-defense training and related topics. I have no military, law enforcement or medical professional background. I had never even considered medical training of any type until a few years ago after I was encouraged to do so as an offshoot from firearms training. So I finally took my first ever CPR/AED class just a few years ago and I’m already well into my adult life. After that I had a half day introduction to TECC class through a local school, then Dark Angel’s first DART about 16 months ago, and finally a Stop the Bleed hour long class through work as I wanted to see what was taught in limited time to employees compared to a full DART class.

What I hoped to get from this class and why I took it:

The first Dark Angel’s DART class showed me more than I thought I’d ever know about immediate trauma care. It was like drinking from a fire hose and filled me with knowledge. I walked away from that class feeling empowered that I actually could help someone in a medical emergency if needed. But after some time, I realized the knowledge and skills had gotten a bit foggy from non-use. I also realized that my ability and confidence to assess a patient properly had never been ingrained as well as was my knowledge of how to use the tools. Similar to what I’ve found about training to shoot a gun for defensive purposes, the raw skills to use tools end up being only very a small portion of what is needed. Thinking and problem solving must be trained too if one plans on being successful in a fight. So my main goal in taking this class was to improve my abilities to think and assess injuries under stress.

Day1:

Administrative tasks were completed before class started by our host and class began on time. This was the inaugural class of DART2, so Kerry, Ross and Mike from Dark Angel all showed up to instruct. Introductions, medical briefing and guidelines for scenario training were covered.

The first half of the day seemed to be a condensed refresher of DART1 material to make sure everyone on the same page with knowledge and skills. It also covered updates to best practices and addressed a specific skill area not previously covered that tied into a recent change to best practices.

After lunch we moved into practicing skills with equipment for a few hours. Again this all was a bit of a refresher from DART1 but also allowed us the opportunity to practice the new skill area brought up in the morning. We also spent some time checking out latest generation tourniquets.

The last portion of the day got into running dry scenarios to start ramping us up for the next day’s full scenario training. Taking turns between being the patient or rescuer, we started to work through assessing and treating injuries. Injuries were relayed verbally or through role-playing. Hot washes were conducted and instructors were giving feedback and tips.

Day2:

This day was all scenario training. Simulated injury moulage apparatuses and fake blood were used during all scenarios to allow for assessments to be performed visually. We again took turns playing victim or rescuer. Victims were fitted with injuries usually based on random drawing of slips of paper with specific predetermined scenarios and injuries to present. Only the victim knew the situation and the rescuer had to figure it out. Prepping victims for their role took a bit of time to between scenarios but that time was not wasted time by the rescuers. Rescuers on-deck worked on other skills during this downtime under instruction. The flow of the scenarios was very good with the way this was handled.

Instruction wasn’t often given during the scenarios themselves unless someone needed a big correction or redirection, other than maybe an instructor adding more blood to show us that our treatment measures weren’t adequate. This is good as it forced us to problem solve, assess on our own and learn from mistakes. Scenarios were completed first, and then instruction and hot washes occurred after each run where we received feedback.

The bulk of the day was spent working individually with one rescuer on one victim assessing and treating a variety of traumatic injuries. But in the afternoon this model did expand into a scenario where we worked with a partner to complete a rescue and then concluded with large group triage scenarios. Other props were added into the environment to add additional situational stress into the scenarios as the day progressed as well.

The day and class officially ended with a hot wash and final thoughts by the students and instructors.

Wrap up:

I highly recommend taking this class if you can. I gained a lot of confidence in my abilities and skills to assess a patient while working through a mental checklist that helps me prioritize and then treat injuries. The class met and exceeded the expectations I had going in.


I caught myself chuckling a little bit the following week at a different force-on-force active shooter class where we had role-players with simulated injuries that we were supposed to “attend to”. At one point one guy was like, “what are you doing?!” My natural response had me running assessments and starting a blood sweep even though it wasn’t part of that class material at all! I think it is fantastic that things I learned in DART and DART2 had stuck with me. I only hope what I know so far stays with me even when I’m further out from training, between now and whenever my next medical class is down the line.

This is not an introductory level class and isn’t just a “cool guy” class either whose photos look great on Instagram. Although the class photos that came out of this do check that box too, it’s only because they’re a side effect of working with some gnarly looking moulage! I believe DART is a prerequisite for this class and anyone who’s completed that is well primed for DART2.

Final thoughts:

I want to mention something here may not matter at all to someone, but might be a huge hurdle that keeps someone else from signing up for this class. That is the compression underwear requirement and being trauma naked! This is the first class I’ve ever had in 500+ hours of training that had special underwear as a requirement and it had me thinking, “Okay, what am I getting into here?!” One definitely needs to have it on as clothing may be removed and we did cut clothing when necessary and as dictated by simulated injuries. But I also really need to say that this class doesn’t revolve around getting people trauma naked just for the sake of practicing exposure. I don’t recall anyone getting fully trauma naked down to underwear aside from the one guy who volunteered to be the demo on how to use shears. I hope that the requirement doesn’t dissuade anyone, whether male or female, from getting into this class.

Finally, this was the inaugural DART2 class. As such, minor changes are bound to occur to the curriculum I experienced and possibly with the number of instructors involved in future classes from what I gathered. But overall, the class already appeared very polished and only a few things showed that the Dark Angel team had never run this class before. Occasionally we’d notice huddles were taking place where the guys were presumably discussing administrative issues or who was going to do what. Also, at the end of each day and after the official class would have normally concluded, we had a session where student input on the class itself was requested. They were trying to get information to improve the experience, although admittedly it was hard to come up with many criticisms as the class was already very well put together.

Kerry, Ross and Mike made for an excellent team of instructors! This was a very educational class filled with learning, and with much humor thanks to the personalities of the instructors! It was easily worth my time and money. If you have the opportunity, I recommend you take it!