PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The oppressive temperatures had crews across South Florida and the Treasure Coast on high alert for heat-related calls amid an excessive heat warning Tuesday.
According to data from the National Conference of Citizenship, heat-related deaths in Florida have increased by 88% in the last three years.
"It's hot. It takes nothing to increase that body temperature," St. Lucie County Batallion Chief Dan Mikels said.
Mikels took WPTV along with him as he rode around St. Lucie County while responding to calls.
So far this year, Martin and Indian River counties saw very slight upticks in heat-related calls, but Mikels said there are many more cases than the data reflected. Often times, he said heat-related calls are labeled something else.
"That person they call for a fall or a trauma injury, we don't know the initial reason why they fell, did they get weak? Did they get dizzy?" Mikels said.
Mikels added the cases they respond to range from kids or dogs in cars to heat stroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Some of those he said who are most at risk are athletes, landscapers, construction workers and even fire crews themselves.
Mikels said the protective gear they wear adds 30 pounds and 30 degrees to the environment they're already working in.
"We'll rotate crews out, provide an ambulance there for rehab, so basically they'll sit in the back of the truck and have the AC blow down on them," Mikels said.
Heat exhaustion vs. heat stroke: Know the signs and how to treat them
Courtney and William Shogrun of Sebastian know how serious the heat can be. On Aug. 13, 2014, their 15-year-old son, William Jr., collapsed from a heat stroke at a football camp.
"That's when they called me and told me he passed away," William Shogrun said.
"We found out from the autopsy report that, after the paramedics worked on him for about an hour-ish, his core temperature was 107," Courtney Shogrun added. "Heat stroke, which should never have happened."
The Shogruns told WPTV that many things could have saved William's life. For one, they said the autopsy report showed paramedics didn't arrive in time to save him, and had there been an ice bath at the football field, the report said he could have survived, yet the Shogruns said none of that happened.
Now, the couple advocates for better athletic conditions, and educates on the dangers of heat, and the importance of following the Florida High School Athletic Association's guidelines, which they say weren't followed at the time of their son's death.
"Next Sunday’s going to be nine years, so when people ask me if it gets any easier, I try to explain to them, 'Imagine not seeing your child for nine years,'" William Shogrun Sr. said "How could that ever get any easier? So, we just don't want that to happen to any other parent"
Amid the heat, crews are urging people to hydrate and to watch for signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion in others. It could save someone's life.
Click here to learn more about the warning signs of heat-related illness.