Tracking Private Lynch

FARWANIYA, Kuwait — A Web-based Defense Department medical system has tracked Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch ever since she was rescued April 1 from Iraqi territory.

As her family and friends celebrate and monitor her progress, the Transportation Command (Transcom) Regulating and Command and Control Evacuation System (TRAC2ES) keeps track of Lynch and the transport of other military patients, said Army Lt. Col. Eric Radford, medical regulating officer for the 3rd Medical Command, Atlanta.

"Pfc. Lynch came into one of our facilities in Kuwait, was treated and observed, and then MedEvac-ed out of this theater," Radford said during a phone interview today from Camp Arifjan.

Lynch, 19, was wounded in a March 23 ambush and had been an Iraqi prisoner of war until Special Operations commandos rescued her earlier this week at Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq. She is being treated at a military hospital in Germany.

TRAC2ES (pronounced "traces") has been providing command and control of global patient movement ever since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. It is managed by Transcom at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where users go through a two- to three-day training session, said Radford, 48, a reservist from Aikens, S.C., who has been here since December 2002.

"It is the primary means of evacuating out of theater here in Iraq and Kuwait," he said. "It's been very effective for us because of the speed, accuracy and ability to move [wounded soldiers] throughout the world."

About 50 doctors and other military medical personnel in southwest Asia are using the system — about four trained users in each hospital, Radford said. He said that the exact number of wounded soldiers who have been entered into TRAC2ES is known, but not releasable to the public because of operational security.

As a medical regulating officer, Radford uses the system to submit patient movement requests to Central Command's Joint Patient Movement Requirements Center for approval, he said.

TRAC2ES, which was developed by Booz Allen Hamilton and numerous subcontractors, has been operational since 2001 and can be accessed via the Internet from any computer worldwide. The No. 1 challenge impeding the system is a lack of bandwidth in this war's theater of operations.

"Nonsecure bandwdith becomes smaller and smaller as the war initiates," Radford said. "It has affected the speed of the system somewhat and the number of people on it."

But DOD has used some workarounds that enable medical personnel to save patient information and then send it on later when more bandwidth is available, as long as the delay won't adversely wounded serviceperson won't be adversely affected by the delay, he said.

Still, even with the bandwidth constraints, TRAC2ES is light years ahead of its predecessors, which were all closed, standalone systems, "and the Army couldn't talk to the Air Force who couldn't talk to the Navy," Radford said.

"This system is joint and used by all the services, which is much more of a benefit," he said, adding that it's all being done on "dusty laptops" that have not been hampered by the sand or heat. "So far, so good."

Al Picarelli, senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, said it was gratifying to know that the company's work is contributing to saving lives.

"I've seen several stories about wounded soldiers and Marines moved from the battlefield, to Landstuhl [Regional Medical Center in Germany], and eventually back here to Walter Reed and Bethesda, and I know that TRAC2ES played a role in ensuring they got the best care possible in route," Picarelli said.

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