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State Department: Florida

If you’re an EMS worker who is thinking of relocating or just wants to learn more about life across the U.S., EMS World’s State Department is worth a look. We start with “snapshots” of featured states, then bring you exclusive guidance from local EMS leaders. Our goal is to highlight everyday aspects of potential destinations from a prehospital provider’s point of view.

Author’s note: The Florida Department of Health did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. Unless otherwise referenced, EMS information is based on content from floridahealth.gov.

Florida Snapshot

  • Approximate number of EMS providers: 34,900 EMTs, 31,300 paramedics11
  • Average straight-time wages: EMT $12.49/hour, paramedic $18.05/hour1
  • Cost of living index: 98.9 (U.S. average = 100)10
  • Recertification cycle: 2 years
  • National Registry certification: Required for new and out-of-state EMTs and paramedics
  • Opportunities for volunteers: N/A
  • Large EMS employers: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, Sunstar Paramedics (Pinellas County), Jacksonville Fire and Rescue
  • Degrees for paramedics: N/A
  • Link to state EMS website
  • Approximate state population: 21,299,000
    • Change since 2010: +13%
    • Average population per provider: 322
  • State area: 65,755 square miles
    • Average population per square mile: 324
    • Rank (↓): 9
  • Most populous cities (approximate): Jacksonville 843,000; Miami 454,000; Tampa 353,000
  • Violent crime one-year change: Jacksonville -2%, Miami -15%, Tampa -8%2
    • State violent crime rank (↑): 333
    • State property crime rank (↑): 293
  • Health rank (↓): 294
  • Top state income tax: 0%6
  • Average sales tax: 6.8%6
  • Average property tax: 0.99%6,7
  • Median home value: $233,3008
    • One-year change: +6.9%8
  • Median monthly rent: $1,8008
  • Average cost of electricity: $0.12/kwh9
  • Average temperatures: Summer 81ºF, Winter 59ºF5

Parks and Rides

For most EMS employees Florida is just a fun place to visit. A week or two of swimming and sightseeing in Mouseville can ease the strain of emergent care and reacquaint wage-earners with leisure time.

Then there are the 66,000 EMTs and paramedics who live and work in Florida. For them home means 1,350 miles of coastline, the world’s most famous resort, and a tropical climate that averages about 60ºF in winter. You could do worse.

Other than being relatively isolated at the southeastern tip of the country, what’s not to like about Florida? Maybe the landscape, which features neither majestic mountains nor emerald valleys. The highest point of our flattest state is 345 feet, which is merely an anthill in Colorado or Alaska. Also, Florida has more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the U.S. Combine that with the part about flatness, and Floridians probably shouldn’t be cleaning their gutters during thunderstorms. Or during hurricanes, which have targeted Florida roughly twice a year since 1851.

But back to the good stuff: Florida is the second-most-visited state in the nation, with more than 100,000 tourists in 2018. Vacationers can choose from over 20 theme parks and hundreds of beaches. And there are 10 professional sports teams—at least one in each major league, including the NHL. Playing ice hockey so close to Cuba sounds strange, but Tampa had the best team in the league last season. Nothing like a 50-degree difference in temperature to motivate skaters from, say, Saskatoon.

So what does an EMS provider have to do to work in the most popular recreation destination east of the Rockies? Start with the National Registry. It’s required for all incoming EMTs and paramedics, along with CPR for the former and ACLS for the latter. To refresh every two years, you’ll need a 30-hour course that includes two hours of pediatric emergencies.

If geriatrics isn’t your thing, Florida probably isn’t the place for you. The state has the highest proportion (17%) of people over 65. Also, 20% of all residents speak mostly Spanish, so any linguistic capabilities beyond Buenos días might put you ahead of the competition.

For a less-demographic view of Florida, please welcome two noted experts on lifestyles of EMS families: Lourdes Zacarese and her brother, Lorenzo, who are vacationing in the Sunshine State with their paramedic parents.

Lourdes, 13, likes the people down there—“except the ones who drive too slow”—and says she could get used to balmy summer breezes all year long. Lorenzo, 11, agrees about the breezes and people and is a fan of any economy bolstered by roller coasters.

Lourdes and Lorenzo, thank you for your feedback. Maybe you could save some room on the beach for one more sun-seeking medic.

References

1. EMS World. EMS World Salary Survey 2018, http://www.ems-stats.com.

2. FBI. Uniform Crime Reporting System, 2017 National Incident Based Reporting System, https://ucr.fbi.gov/nibrs/2017.

3. Ibid., 2016.

4. America’s Health Rankings, United Health Foundation. 2018 Annual Report, www.americashealthrankings.org/learn/reports/2018-annual-report.

5. Current Results. Average Annual Temperature for Each U.S. State, www.currentresults.com/Weather/US/average-annual-state-temperatures.php.

6. Tax Foundation Facts and figures, https://files.taxfoundation.org/20180411102900/Facts-Figures-2018-How-Does-Your-State-Compare.pdf.

7. Ibid., Property Taxes Paid as a Percentage of Owner-Occupied Housing Value.

8. Zillow. United States Home Prices & Values, www.zillow.com/home-values/.

9. Choose Energy. Electricity Rates by State in 2018, www.chooseenergy.com/electricity-rates-by-state/.

10. Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Cost of Living Data Series, 2018 Annual Average, https://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/.

11. Florida Health. EMS Section Highlights, July 2018, www.floridahealth.gov.

Mike Rubin is a paramedic in Nashville and a member of EMS World’s editorial advisory board. Contact him at mgr22@prodigy.net.

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