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State Department: Idaho

If you’re a paramedic or EMT who’s thinking of relocating, or you’d just like to learn more about life across the U.S., EMS World’s State Department is worth a look. We start with data-driven “snapshots” of each state, then add a few paragraphs about regional practices and lifestyle. Our goal is to highlight everyday aspects of potential destinations from a prehospital provider’s point of view.

Idaho Snapshot

  • Link to state EMS website
  • Average straight-time wages: $21.16/hour1
  • State area: 83,797 square miles     
  • Approximate state population: 1,754,000
    • Rank (↓): 39
    • Change since 2010: +12%
  • Most populous cities (approximate): Boise 227,000, Meridian 100,000, Nampa 94,000
  • Violent crime one-year change: N/A2
  • State violent crime rank (↑): 63
  • State property crime rank (↑): 73
  • Health rank (↓): 164
  • Average temperatures: Summer 64ºF, Winter 25ºF5
  • Top state income tax: 6.9%6
  • Average sales tax: 6.0%6
  • Average property tax: 0.72%6
    • Rank (↓): 346
  • Median home value: $266,4007
    • One-year change: +16%8
  • Median monthly rent: $1,4007
  • Average cost of electricity: $0.10/kwh8
  • Cost of living index: 92.3 (U.S. average = 100)9
  • Best states rank (↓): 1610
  • Approximate annual retirement cost per household: $58,00011

A Serious Shortage of Cement

Moving to Idaho is a bad idea.

For one thing there’s too much skiing—18 resorts on 18,000 acres with 28,000 vertical feet of terrain. Blame it on the mountains. There are so many of them, the state’s average elevation is 5,000 feet—not the place to be if you’re a fan of sweltering cities.

Then there’s the world-class fishing in 31 wildlife management areas. Spend enough time with a rod and boat on a lake, and you might forget important facts, like bretylium dosing. Besides, you can buy fish in stores.

How about hiking? Overrated, I’d say, unless you live on a block without waterfalls, rivers, or canyons. Plus, more than a third of Idaho is forested, which means less room for sidewalks and storm drains.

Yup, I’m pretty sure Idaho isn’t for me. Not enough broken elevators and alternate-side-of-the-street parking.

Kilroy Wasn’t Here, But Lewis and Clark Were

Idaho is a vibrant state, changing with the times. It still produces almost a third of the potatoes grown in the U.S., but there’s much more than agriculture going on. More than 25% of the state’s revenue comes from science and technology—not bad for the geographic center of our rural Northwest.

Most of the population lives in the south along the Snake River Plain. If you’re visiting that region, check out Shoshone Falls, the “Niagara of the West.” Then head downriver to northeast Oregon, and you’ll find Hell’s Canyon, North America’s deepest gorge (7,993 feet). If you continue north through Idaho’s panhandle, you’ll need a passport; Idaho shares a 50-mile border with British Columbia.

If you prefer legitimate outdoor adventures to Travel Channel reruns, make sure you see Sun Valley. It’s a year-round midstate recreation center best known as a ski resort, where you can ride the first chair lift ever built. Don’t worry, they’ve probably done some maintenance on it since then.

An Eye Toward the Future

National registry is required for all new EMS licenses but not for renewals. Here are the alternatives by level of certification:

  • EMTs: 48 hours of CME, including four hours of pediatrics;
  • AEMTs: 54 hours of CME, including six hours of pediatrics;
  • Paramedics: 72 hours of CME, including eight hours of pediatrics.

For reciprocity incoming providers need verification of existing state licenses, affiliation with an Idaho EMS agency, and NREMT certification within three years for EMTs and two years for AEMTs and paramedics.

Idaho is a compact state, which has nothing to do with its size. Compact refers to an agreement that will allow EMS providers to practice in other participating states—18 as of now, including neighbors Wyoming and Utah. That arrangement should be operational by the end of 2020.


  1. EMS World. EMS World Salary Survey 2018,
  2. FBI. Uniform Crime Reporting System, 2018 National Incident Based Reporting System,
  3. Public Safety Rankings,
  4. America’s Health Rankings, United Health Foundation. 2018 Annual Report,
  5. Current Results. Average Annual Temperature for Each U.S. State,
  6. Tax Foundation Facts and figures 2019,
  7. Zillow. United States Home Prices & Values,
  8. Choose Energy. Electricity Rates by State,
  9. Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Cost of Living Data Series, 2019 Average,
  10. Best States 2019: Ranking Performance Throughout All 50 States. U.S. News & World Report. 2019.
  11. Hill C. This is exactly how much it will cost to retire well in every state in America. MarketWatch, 2019 Jul 2;

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

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