MICHAELA MALCOLM AND SARAH WELLS

MOBILE INTENSIVE CARE AMBULANCE, AMBULANCE VICTORIA

For Michaela Malcolm and Sarah Wells, treating life-threatening injuries 1000 feet in the air is just a regular day at work.

They are Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) flight paramedics – highly trained medical staff providing emergency response on Ambulance Victoria’s helicopters and aeroplanes. They’re also the first women to carry out this role.

It’s a physically challenging job, as MICA flight paramedics deal with complex medical emergencies in difficult environments.

Sarah has been a paramedic for 15 years and says she has long admired the calm demeanour of the MICA Flight Paramedics as they walk into a dynamic scene and take control. She set her sights on joining their ranks and, alongside Michaela, worked through a rigorous 18-months of training to do so.

MICA Flight Paramedics must come prepared for the worst-case scenario. Sarah and Michaela are trained to handle the toughest situations. They’ve learned how to be winched from great height to a patient in distress and mastered the art of escaping from a submerged helicopter – blindfolded.

Michaela grew up in country Victoria where her dad was a volunteer ambulance officer. She says she saw the value of community service from a young age, and today is humbled by the opportunity to provide high-level care to the people of Victoria.

The job can be mentally and physically demanding at times. MICA Flight Paramedics often work in the cramped cabin of a helicopter, dealing with extremes of temperature and the intense noise of an aircraft, all while making clinical decisions with the highest of stakes.

But for Sarah and Michaela the challenging nature of the work makes it fulfilling. After all, no two days are ever the same. They agree it’s a privilege to be there for people at their most vulnerable – and they can’t imagine doing anything else.

Illustrated by Janelle Barone