Mesa Fire & Medical first in Phoenix area to use drones on emergency calls

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The process to get drones for the Mesa Fire and Medical Department started three years ago. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The process to get drones for the Mesa Fire and Medical Department started three years ago. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
To fly the drones, crews had to undergow 40 hours of work in the classroom and more than 25 hours of flight training. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) To fly the drones, crews had to undergow 40 hours of work in the classroom and more than 25 hours of flight training. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
During a rescue, when a drone pilot is out on the scene, they are sending back a live picture to the command post so everyone can monitor the situation. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) During a rescue, when a drone pilot is out on the scene, they are sending back a live picture to the command post so everyone can monitor the situation. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
So far, they have used the drones on search and rescues in the desert, helping with surveying the flood damage in Mayer last summer and other incidents. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) So far, they have used the drones on search and rescues in the desert, helping with surveying the flood damage in Mayer last summer and other incidents. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

“In Arizona, we are one of the first fire departments to have a drone program," said Deputy Chief Brian Kotsur of the Mesa Fire and Medical Department.

The process to get drones for the Mesa Fire and Medical Department started three years ago.

"It's an important technology piece that helps us be safer," said Kotsur.

To learn both the flying skills and the rules to govern the technology, Mesa Fire turned to John Nunes, an FAA licensed pilot with Gresco Technology Solutions, for 40 hours of work in the classroom and more than 25 hours of flight training.

"He was basically telling us you are going to be a pilot so act like one, respect the safety and that’s what we did," said Kotsur.

[RELATED: Phoenix rescue group uses drones to search for lost dog]

So far, they have used the drones on search and rescues in the desert, helping with surveying the flood damage in Mayer last summer and other incidents.

"Several residence and commercial fires and drone prep exercises for water rescues and hazardous materials circumstances," said Kotsur.

During a rescue, when a drone pilot is out on the scene, they are sending back a live picture to the command post so everyone can monitor the situation.

"It provides a good view and safe view and doesn't put our people in harm’s way," said Kotsur.

[RELATED: Drones used for first time in major search at Grand Canyon]

The department currently has four drones but also partners with Gresco to use the company’s drones with thermal imaging. The partnership makes sure Mesa is not limited during an emergency situation.

Mesa Fire is hoping to expand the use of the drones over the next year.

"What I’d like to see happen is to have these automatically deploy from certain locations in the city, so when a call comes in they'll deploy and be able to provide us instantaneous info of what is happening at that scene," said Kotsur.

Mesa Fire has also been assisting in helping with drone training for other fire departments in the Valley.

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Ashlee DeMartinoAshlee DeMartino is excited to finally be back in her hometown of Phoenix.

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Ashlee DeMartino
Weekend Weather Anchor

An award-winning journalist, Ashlee has worn many hats in her career, one-woman-band, executive producer, anchor, reporter and morning traffic reporter. However, her main focus and passion is weather.

As a Weather Anchor Ashlee has seen the power and destruction of mother-nature up close and personal, reporting on ravaging wildfires, devastating floods, 100 car pile ups in the fog and the rare snow and ice storm on the Las Vegas Strip.

Ashlee graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and is currently enrolled at Mississippi State University in the Geosciences program finishing her degree in Meteorology.

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