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November 2021

Old photo from 1993 of Chris and Dave inside MICA vehicle jpeg
Rural Victorian MICA paramedics Chris James and Dave Garner in 1993.

Dave and Chris in 2021 jpeg

Dave Garner and Chris James in 2021.

Old photo of Graeme Sloman jpeg

Graeme Sloman

Old photo of MICA vehicle from 1971 jpeg

Car 208 began operations in 1971.

Old photo of Andrea Wyatt jpeg

Andrea Wyatt – one of the first two women paramedics in Victoria and the first woman MICA paramedic.

Andrea Wyatt in 2021 stood infront of a MICA vehicle jpeg

Andrea Wyatt in 2021.

Ambulance Victoria marks major MICA milestone

Ambulance Victoria has celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) – a revolution which paved the way for the world class pre-hospital care Victorians have today.

Australia’s first MICA service, and only the third in the world, began operation at the Royal Melbourne hospital in a converted mid-70s Dodge vehicle known as Car 208, on September 9, 1971.

The father of MICA was Graeme Sloman and ambulance officers Wally Byrne and Wally Ross became the first of many MICA brothers and sisters.

‘It took some years for the MICA concept to gain wide-ranging acceptance,’ Dr Sloman said.

‘It was a struggle to get the hospital and legal system to accept that ambulance officers were adequately trained to administer life-saving drugs previously restricted to hospitals.’

During a three-month pilot with doctors and ambulance officers, the crew responded to 93 cases, mainly coronary care and road trauma patients.

The first MICA case was a man who collapsed on a roof in Ascot Vale.

Before long, the MICA unit was responding without doctors on board and, within a few years, was attending 250 cases a month.

Three other MICA units were soon established at Frankston Hospital, the Alfred Hospital and the Western General Hospital.

Today, there are 600 MICA paramedics in metropolitan and rural regions, and in air ambulance response, providing an internationally-recognised advanced level of lifesaving and life changing care.

Ambulance Victoria Chief Executive Officer Tony Walker said MICA was established in collaboration with the medical fraternity – a key factor behind the evolution of the paramedic profession in Victoria and our state-wide system of care that continues to this day.

‘The advent of MICA brought coronary care and intensive care into the streets, homes and workplaces of Victorians who needed urgent medical help,’ said Professor Walker, who is also a MICA paramedic.

‘Rather than rushing patients to hospital, MICA brought hospital level care to them with ambulance officers able to provide ground-breaking treatment, such as defibrillation for patients in cardiac arrest.

‘The skills, training and clinical expertise of all Victorian paramedics, including Advanced Life Support (ALS) paramedics, had their foundations in the early days of MICA.’

Professor Walker said 50 years on, the MICA service continued to evolve to meet the different needs of the community.

Women now make up 20 per cent of the MICA paramedic workforce and more than 50 per cent of all qualified and graduate paramedics.

‘Today’s MICA paramedics are highly-skilled clinicians who perform treatments such as advanced airway management, manage complex head injuries and cardiac conditions and treat life-threatening chest injuries,’ Professor Walker said.

‘Year on year MICA has continued to deliver even better care to the community.

‘It has saved the lives of countless patients across the state and touched the lives of many more.

‘There are people alive today because our MICA paramedics did extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances to deliver fantastic care.

‘As we celebrate 50 years of MICA, we thank the pioneering ambulance officers, doctors and administrators for their vision, dedication and determination.

‘We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.’

Ambulance Victoria has more than 4,800 paramedics – including MICA and Advanced Life Support (ALS) paramedics – another 1,300 first responders, 100 doctors and about 500 corporate employees.

As a trusted member of the state’s co-ordinated healthcare system, Ambulance Victoria is the first step in many care pathways, and as Victoria’s largest healthcare provider, Ambulance Victoria services over 6.5 million Victorians.