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Woman who survived I-10 crash meets first responders who saved her life

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BATON ROUGE - A woman who was involved in a crash on I-10 in April got the chance to thank the first responders who gave her life-saving assistance. 

The crash happened on I-10 West at Highland Road on April 17. Dr. Ann Ralli's car was struck from behind, causing her to veer off of the roadway and hit the Highland Road exit sign. 

The impact of the crash triggered Ralli's heart condition, sending her in and out of consciousness. 

"I'm thinking, 'what's happened here? Am I going to make it?' Then the paramedics came and I felt safe from that moment on," Ralli said. 

Within minutes, the St. George Fire Department and East Baton Rouge EMS were on the scene, shocking Ralli's heart with a defibrillator. 

"They explained to me that my heart was slowing down and they needed to shock me and keep shocking me, and I totally trusted them and quite rightly so," she said. 

"I think time was of the essence and recognition of her condition was critical," said Cody Gateley, a St. George firefighter.

If her son had received immediate action like that 37 years ago, Ralli thinks he would still be alive today. At only 18 years old, her son Ceri was struck by a car as he was pulling out of his driveway on a bicycle. 

Ralli says her home in England at the time was in a remote location, and it took an ambulance nearly half an hour to arrive. By the time paramedics got to the scene, it was too late. 

"I did ask the surgeon at some point, was there anything that could have saved him and he said 'Getting the paramedics there quicker,'" Ralli said.

Grief-stricken, but motivated, Ralli began to raise money for her hometown in Devon, England to buy an air ambulance. In a matter of two years, she was able to fund not one but two helicopters for the town. 

"He died in 1986, the air ambulance was launched in 1992. And after, I sort of launched the charity in 1990. So two years after I had started, we had the money to have the ambulance," she said. 

Being able to express gratitude to the group of first responders on Friday was cathartic for Ralli. And there is no better moment for this sentimental meeting, that National EMS Recognition Day. 

"Thinking I wish they would've been able to get to my son because they might have saved him. And all these years later, it sends a shiver down my spine to think they saved me." 

Ralli has fully recovered from her accident and plans to travel to England this summer to advocate more for the Devon Air-Ambulance Service. 

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