Two Nova Scotia women are expressing a heartfelt ‘thanks’ to the people who saved their lives after a car crash last month.

Celeste MacDonald and Emily Hunter were driving along Highway 102 towards Fall River, N.S. when they hit black ice.

The car, driven by MacDonald, hit a guardrail and sailed over an embankment, landing on its roof and trapping the women inside.

A paramedic was among the first people to respond to the crash.

“Words will not be able to express how thankful I am for him,” says MacDonald, who was trapped in the vehicle for nearly 1.5 hours.

“He stayed there the whole time and held my hand and talked to me and just really kept me calm.”

The Jaws of Life were eventually used to free the women from the vehicle

“My side was the side where they had to cut of the door to be able to get both of us out,” says Hunter, who was trapped for about 30 minutes.

“The firefighter was the one who helped me get out of the car, but the paramedic I had stayed with me, exactly like the one she had and calmed me down.”

Hunter spent a few days in hospital and will wear a neck brace for another three weeks. She suffered a broken rib and a bruised lung in the crash, while MacDonald fractured her vertebrae.

They thanked hospital staff for the care they received, but they also want to extend their gratitude to the volunteer firefighters from Fall River, as well as the paramedics, who responded to the crash.

“I just didn’t really understand what a paramedic really does,” says MacDonald. “It’s more than just taking you to the hospital and hearing the sirens.”

“Everybody thinks the trauma room is where the action happens,” says Dr. Guy Brisseau, medical director of the Nova Scotia Trauma Program.

“The fact is, without the outstanding care that happens prior to coming here, what happens here is irrelevant.”

Brisseau was the trauma team leader the night of the crash. He says he isn’t surprised to hear the women praise the paramedics.

“They care, and care is beyond just showing up and collecting your pay cheque. Caring is at the core essence of why they do this.”

“What he did for me…I will remember him for the rest of my life,” says MacDonald of the paramedic who stayed by her side through the ordeal. “He’s truly an amazing person.”

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster