A specialist in aviation medicine, Group Captain Tracy Smart became the first woman appointed Chief Instructor and then Commanding Officer at the RAAF Institute of Aviation Medicine, holding the latter post from 1997-99 and 2003-04. Her special interest in women in aviation is evident in her published articles and papers presented nationally and internationally.
Born in McLaren Vale in South Australia, Tracy Smart joined the RAAF in 1985 and graduated from Flinders University of South Australia in 1987. Since completing her terms as intern and Resident Medical Officer at Adelaide hospitals, she gained a Diploma of Aviation Medicine in the UK in 1992 and a Master in Public Health (Defence) through the Centre for Military and Veterans Health at the University of Queensland in 2007.
Tracy’s posting overseas with the Royal Air Force in 1992-93 was followed in 2000-01 with a posting with the United States Air Force, when she undertook one of her more unusual tasks, investigating bladder relief options for female fighter pilots. Tracy has also been deployed on numerous overseas operations, including United Nations peacekeeping missions in Rwanda (1995) and East Timor (2002), in the latter serving as Chief Health Officer for the entire Peacekeeping Force. In 1999 she was the Investigating Medical Officer on a fatal RAAF F-111 accident investigation in Malaysia, for which she was awarded a Chief of Air Force Commendation.
In 2003-4 Tracy was deployed in support of coalition aeromedical evacuation operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her most recent deployment was to Beirut, Lebanon in July 2006, when she provided health support to evacuation operations.
Promoted to Group Captain on 16 August 2004, Tracy became Officer Commanding, Health Services Wing, the senior health position in the Air Force commanding all Air Force health units. She dispatched health teams in response to a number of operations and natural disasters including the South East Asian tsunami in December 2004; the Nias earthquake, the Bali bombings, and the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005; the Garuda airlines accident in Yogjakarta in March 2007; the tsunami in the Solomon Islands in April 2007); and assistance missions to East Timor as well as coordinating Air Force health support to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For Tracy Smart service in Rwanda was particularly traumatic in the aftermath of the tragic civil war and its effects on children. Tracy’s leadership skills have also been acquired in the most extreme of situations, such as her accident investigation role in Malaysia as the only medical person on the team collecting forensic evidence and returning the deceased to their loved ones for burial. These missions have increased Tracy Smart’s knowledge not only of medicine, but of other cultures and her own passion for travel and adventure.
Australian Department of Defence
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