NEMSA Colleagues First Graduates of Unified Public Safety Administration Program

The program offers contemporary perspectives in emergency management, public safety, disaster response, policing, fire services and other public safety arenas


Colleagues at the National EMS Academy are part of the inaugural graduating class of Northwestern State University’s bachelor degree program in Unified Public Safety Administration.

NEMSA’s Education Manager Gifford Saravia, Education Coordinator Al Landry, Developmental Editor Chris Mixon, and Clinical Coordinator Liz Mrak all received diplomas in UPSA at the December commencement. The program offers contemporary perspectives in emergency management, public safety, disaster response, policing, fire services and other public safety arenas and is offered through NSU’s Department of Criminal Justice, History and Social Sciences.

The UPSA program allowed the graduates to assist their communities through service-learning and research projects. Saravia and Mixon developed an intermediate mass fatality plan that is in use for the Department of Health and Hospitals Region 4 coroner’s offices in Louisiana, while Mrak and Landry’s service project was an analysis of the Incident Command System.

Mixon, who graduated with the highest GPA of the four, was awarded the Champ Belt, a handmade incentive for the student with the best grades. Mixon hopes the Champ Belt will persuade other colleagues to further their education through the UPSA program.

Obtaining the degree has now given Saravia, Landry and Mixon the motivation to pursue a master’s degree. As of this semester, they are currently enrolled in NSU’s graduate program in adult education with a concentration in homeland security.

“My experience at NSU has helped me to grow as a person both professionally as well as personally,” says Saravia. “The course work has given me a bigger picture point of view regarding issues related to public safety. As a manager at NEMSA, I am able to draw from my experiences at NSU to improve the quality of the courses that I teach internally, as well as have a better understanding of the perspective of all of the various EMS stakeholders in the state.”

NEMSA is a division of Acadian and offers entry-level, continuing education, and refresher courses for a number of EMS career pathways, including EMTs and paramedics. NEMSA is a nationally-accredited EMS training facility and an authorized American Heart Association Training Center for CPR and ECC courses. 

Since 1971, Acadian has been committed to providing the highest level of emergency medical care and transportation possible. In the past decade, the company has expanded to include a diverse suite of services in health, safety, and transportation. Acadian’s six divisions are Acadian Ambulance Service, Acadian Monitoring Services, Air Med, Executive Aircraft Charter Service, National EMS Academy and Safety Management Systems.