As you cruise along the highway listening to your favorite podcast, you watch in disbelief and horror as a car a few lengths in front of you swerves violently, knocking a biker clear across three lanes of traffic. You pull over immediately and feel that natural desire to help. But what are you going to do? Do you have the knowledge and willingness to become part of the scene? Are you a bystander or a “by-doer?”
Never at a loss for a smile or a Southern phrase that will keep you grinning from ear-to-ear like a mule eatin’ saw briars, Kerry Davis of Dark Angel Medical wants to create a vast army of “bydoers” — regular people with the ability and willingness to help save a human life. Effortlessly blending complex medical information with an easy to understand trauma care curriculum, Davis provides training for everyone, as well as a suite of medical kits specifically designed to complement your everyday lifestyle.
Affectionately known as “Pocket Doc” to those closest to him, Davis is a humble, quiet professional who lives and breathes what he teaches, referring to himself as “just a nurse.” Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that this Air Force vet has more than 29 years of medical experience as a military flight medic, paramedic, and ER nurse. In addition to running Dark Angel Medical, Davis is also an adjunct instructor at SIG Sauer Academy. He has dedicated his adulthood to the preservation of life and hopes that through Dark Angel Medical, he can train the masses to be positively reactive instead of being as useful as a steering wheel on a mule.
RECOIL OFFGRID: When you entered the Air Force, did you plan on being a medic?
Kerry Davis: I came into the military as an open general classification, but I wanted to be a medic. Prior to that, I was in pre-med in college and I wanted to be a doctor. That was my life’s goal, to take care of people in some capacity.
We got to work very closely with the Special Tactics Squadron (STS), the Pararescue Jumpers (PJs), the Combat Controllers, Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), all those guys. I was up at Ft. Bragg for almost five years. I got a lot of really great experience with those guys and others stationed up there and they were willing to teach me what they knew. I really had a thirst to learn more and to be better, because I figured the more I learned, the better medic it would make me for the guys I was taking care of.
Were you able to apply what you learned in the field?
KD: It was mostly peacetime stuff, but there were some instances where I did get hazardous duty pay. For the most part, the majority of my trauma experience was taking care of people in the ER, or taking care of people when we would rotate over to Womack Army Medical Center. I got my street knowledge as a paramedic. That was where I really started learning, and I developed my critical thinking skills. That helped me become a better ER nurse and a critical care nurse.
Was there a defining moment in the military, the ER, or in the field where you said, “People need to know this information?”
KD: The most horrible thing in the world would be to see something bad happen to somebody you love and not know what the hell to do. That sucks. And that was probably my driving motivation, just trying to empower people with more knowledge.
When I was a paramedic in Montgomery, Alabama, back in 2003, one of my patients was a young serviceman that had been shot at a fast-food drive-thru as a result of a carjacking. People were just standing there, not knowing what to do. And when we answered the call, this kid’s laying there with bloody bubbles coming out of his nose. He was still breathing. But I saw a gunshot wound in his cheek under his left eye, one through his forearm, and one in his chest in the side.
When I got him in the back of the ambulance and I was pumping all these drugs and stuff into him, the fire medic that was with me was like, “Why are you doing that, man? This dude, he’s gone. He’s a lost cause.” I’ve never been so pissed in my life. I said, “This is somebody’s kid. I’m supposed to do everything I’m supposed to do. I’m not just going to sit back here and ride the code in.” It just pissed me off, the callousness of it. I don’t want people to be that way. I want people to know how to do something. That pushed me into saying that people need to know this material. I started working on a curriculum around 2006.
Prior to Dark Angel, were you providing any level of instruction?
KD: Yeah, I had been teaching advanced cardiac life support, pediatric life support, advanced life support, basic life support, and CPR. I had been teaching Self Aid Buddy Care in the military, and Prehospital Trauma Life Support. So, I’ve been teaching to adult learners since I started in 1992. I volunteered to be an instructor because I had a passion for talking to people and teaching this stuff. And then I started teaching part-time at the paramedic school, filling in when their instructors needed some help. I would cover paramedic pharmacology or cardiology classes, things like that. And I was like, “Man, there’s something to this. People can learn this. It ain’t rocket surgery.” That’s where I started getting the bug for it and said to myself, “Why don’t I just start teaching everyday folks?”
I started kicking around the idea for Dark Angel in about 2010. And then, in August 2011, almost nine years ago, I formed the LLC.
What do you think are two of the biggest trauma medicine myths that people have accepted as fact?
KD: That you can use a belt as an effective tourniquet and that you can use a tampon to pack a wound. A belt is designed to hold your britches up over your ass, period. Its intent is not to stop life-threatening hemorrhage. A belt by itself is no more than a constricting band. There’s not enough pressure that can be applied to occlude a major arterial bleed. Some people will say, “Well, such and such is Billy Bob’s brother down the street’s sister’s cousin’s uncle, and he used it one time.” Dude, a broken watch is right twice a day.
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