By Jared Dillingham
Phoenix, AZ (KTVK/CNN) - A young Phoenix woman is lucky to be alive after she suffered an internal decapitation in a car crash last year.
On Monday, she got to meet the firefighters who saved her life.
"I just thought, I'm not going to let this beat me, define me," said Rachel Bailey.
Rachel spent one month in the Intensive Care Unit after an accident severed her skull from her spine.
"I don't remember anything about it. I don't remember [from] two days prior to a month and a half after," said Rachel.
But the firefighters who responded to her crash do remember her.
"Got you to hospital as soon as we could," said one firefighter.
One year after the accident she got to thank the men whose quick but careful work saved her life and prevented paralysis.
"You're the unsung heroes," Rachel said to the firefighters.
"It's kind of emotional to have her here and it's great to see her and see her doing so well," said Capt. Wayde Kline.
"I cannot express enough gratitude to them," said Rachel.
Captain Kline says as firefighters, they often see patients at their worst, and don't often enough get to see a positive outcome like this.
"It reminds us that the people we take care of are someone's mom dad brother sister son or daughter," said Capt. Kline.
Rachel updated them on her recovery.
"Six surgeries since the accident," she said.
Which has been remarkable. She's learned to walk and talk again. The 23-year-old former personal trainer says she has a new outlook on life.
"I look at it like a butterfly. I was in a cocoon but now I'm growing wings and I'll be out better stronger and healthier than before," she said.