Ambulance & Mobile Intensive Care Services

The Mary Greeley Medical Center Mobile Intensive Care Services (MICS) was the state’s first paramedic ambulance service. While the foundation of ambulatory care hasn’t changed, modern day technology and advanced medical techniques have enhanced care in many ways.

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Mary Greeley Medical Center Mobile Intensive Care Services (MICS)

Mary Greeley Medical Center Mobile Intensive Care Unit

Mary Greeley's paramedics
helped shape one of the safest
ambulances in Iowa.

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Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, MICS offers staff and services for a variety of medical needs and emergencies. On average, MICS paramedics receive 80 calls a week—that’s over 4,000 a year. They include:

  • 911 calls
  • Inter-facility emergency and critical care transfers
  • Routine scheduled transfers to other hospitals and healthcare organizations, including long-term care and assisted living
  • EMS coverage of mass events in community
  • In-hospital emergency response for cardiac arrests
  • Fire and other emergencies
  • Security and surveillance on hospital campus

Specialized training for certified MICS includes Paramedic Specialist Certification, aggressive behavior management, and hazardous materials operations. In addition, MICS staff works closely with First Responder units across central Iowa providing training and support.

Early Mary Greeley Ambulance Thumbnail

Iowa's First Paramedic Service

Mary Greeley has been a leader in emergency medical response.

For a good stretch of time, ambulance service in Ames was provided by a funeral home.

That changed on Jan. 1, 1973, when Mary Greeley took over the service from Stevens Funeral Home. The first paramedics went out of state to become certified, as the state of Iowa had no such designation.

It was not until 1979, when Iowa created its Advanced Care Law for Emergency Medical Services, that Mary Greeley was officially recognized as the first paramedic service in Iowa and became known as Mobile Intensive Care Services, or MICS. Shortly after, Mary Greeley became authorized to provide teaching and testing for certifications of all paramedics within Iowa.

Mary Greeley had the first paramedic class in the state and went on to provide advanced care training for nearly two decades, until paramedic and EMT programs started be offered at schools around the state.

Offline

In addition to being recognized as the first paramedic service in Iowa, Mary Greeley was also the first service to be fully offline. What exactly does that mean? In the early days, if paramedics were going to perform advanced procedures in the field, they had to call in to the hospital and receive permission from an attending physician. With the extensive training that Mary Greeley paramedics had undergone, approval was given to allow to forgo the call and not waste valuable time in treating patients.

Former paramedic Rick Stowell, who joined MICS in 1982, recalls that Mary Greeley was a pretty progressive place.

“The advantage of that was that it always seemed as though someone had your back when it came to ideas you had, or decisions you made,” said Stowell.

If the paramedics felt they needed something on the truck that wasn’t within their scope, they could go to the Iowa Board of Medical Examiners and make a case for it. This served them well numerous times, such as the time Mary Greeley was allowed to start carrying nitrous oxide on their trucks.

Diverse Duties

While going out on emergency calls, was and still remains, a large part of their job, paramedics and EMTs performed several hospital functions, a few of which they still perform today.

For example, paramedics once did all of the electrocardiograms, or EKGs, in the hospital.

“We did a lot of them in the field so we were very proficient and were also trained extensively in how to read and interpret them,” recalled Chris Perrin, former paramedic and current Emergency Management coordinator for Mary Greeley. “In fact, we had so much training in EKGs that we often taught interpretation to Intensive Care and Emergency Department staff.”

Perrin, who was a paramedic for 28 years and part of the first official paramedic class in Iowa, also remembers when the Jaws of Life used to be carried by the ambulances rather than fire trucks like today.

“Back then we carried the Jaws of Life on the front bumper of the ambulance and did our own auto extrication,” he said.

Stowell, who worked with Perrin, remembers one specific call that came in on a cold February day. A car accident had led to a vehicle going into freezing cold water. Ambulances responded and with the car partly submerged, the door would not open.

“I remember putting on waders, grabbing the Jaws of Life and going into that water,” Stowell said. “You don’t think about hypothermia at the time, you’re just trying to get the victim out of the car. I had to go underwater to use the Jaws of Life and eventually the door opened. It was so cold, that I didn’t realize until after we got back from the call that I must have cut my hand somehow and ended up having to get stitches.”

One function that paramedics still perform today within the hospital, is starting IVs. If hospital staff has a hard time starting an IV, they often rely on paramedics to help.

“We had to be able to start IVs out in the field, and as you can imagine, sometimes you’re having to do that in less than ideal conditions,” said Stowell.

Reliable

While technology has changed in the past 40 years, as has ambulances and emergency response processes, one thing has remained a constant: the level of care Mary Greeley paramedics provide.

“We are still called upon to provide training to EMTs and paramedics from around the state,” said Dieter Friton, MICS director. “We go on nearly 5,000 calls a year and last year traveled just under 100,000 miles to reach the people who need us. We do what’s right for the people in the communities we serve.”

EMS Resource Center

EMS

Mobile Intensive Care Services at Mary Greeley Medical Center is a training resource center for emergency medical service (EMS) agencies throughout Story County