History and Mission

As the UNM EMS Academy reaches its 44th anniversary, it's clear that the small group of idealists who founded EMSA in 1972 would scarcely recognize the agency today. EMSA remains the largest EMS training agency in New Mexico, and remains our state’s designated lead training agency. We are one of few agencies nationally to offer a state-wide education program, and we are now one of only thirteen university programs to offer a Bachelor’s degree in EMS. Thousands of students turn to EMSA every year for their EMS education needs.

EMSA has a distinguished history: The first course offered by the academy, in 1972, was an emergency medical technician- ambulance program, 81 hours in length. That same year, an instructor course was first offered.

Quickly, basic life support training was rolled out throughout New Mexico. Using the Academy as home base, a rural instructor cadre was developed, and courses were offered across the state.

On December 6, 1974, the first class of Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians- all firefighters from Albuquerque or Bernalillo County- graduated. Shortly afterwards, advanced life support training was rolled out in Albuquerque.

In 1997, the faculty of the School of Medicine at University of New Mexico approved a Bachelor of Science degree program in emergency medical services. Now with 200 students in the program, it remains one of the largest and best-known EMS bachelor’s degree programs nationally.

In addition to its robust rural outreach training program, aggressive research program, and in-house Paramedic Program and BLS academic courses, the Academy also offers a wide variety of advanced level and specialty classes, including a newly expanded mountain medicine program.

EMSA is home to a busy contracts division, which delivers customized education to large corporate and governmental agencies. We currently offer state-of-the-art EMS education to military clients. In addition, our staff has many years of experience advising, international clients seeking expertise in EMS systems design, education, and management.

In 2009, the EMSA community re-ratified its mission, vision and values statements. Our new direction is emphasized in these adopted statements:

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of New Mexico Emergency Medical Services Academy is to provide outstanding prehospital medical education and educator training; to serve as a resource for EMS workers, particularly those in underserved areas of New Mexico; to pursue new knowledge and advance the practice of emergency medical services.

Vision Statement

The vision of the University of New Mexico Emergency Medical Services Academy is to be a national center of excellence in emergency medical services education, with a strong commitment to improving prehospital care throughout the state of New Mexico. Our community of teachers and learners will promote the delivery of excellent and compassionate health care and will pursue knowledge and discovery in the field of emergency medical services.


Excellence and accountability in the conduct of education, research, patient care, and community engagement; Diversity that values the unique characteristics of all people and that is actively sought at all levels within our community; Integrity, professionalism, and ethical behavior that embodies the principles of altruism, beneficence and justice; promotes patient care, learning, research and productivity through relationships based on courtesy, civility and respectful communication; and is worthy of the trust and respect given to us as teachers, scholars and healers. Social responsibility demonstrated by discovery and teaching about the social, economic, and cultural contexts of New Mexico people’s health; Creativity and innovation that translates research into individual and community health benefits and medical education into population health literacy, that accelerates health technology diffusion to all corners of the state, and that transforms the science of clinical care into a healing art.