A WOMAN who fell 30ft down a ravine near a Northumberland waterfall has praised the rescuers which flew to her aid.
Jodi Clark, 39, was walking with her husband David, 13-year-old daughter Tyler, and their two dogs, near the edge of Hareshaw Linn waterfall, Bellingham, when the ground gave way and she fell in the river below onto rocks.
Mr Clark, 49, said: “It was horrendous. She was face first in the water. I scrambled down to get to her. I thought she was dead.
“I got her out of the water. She was unconscious. Then she came round and was gurgling. I thought she must be brain damaged. She couldn’t move.
“Tyler phoned 999 while I gave her first aid.
“A mountain rescue paramedic from Bellingham was first at the scene. He called for the air ambulance.”
Mrs Clark had suffered a broken back in six places, a fractured skull, bleed on the brain, a punctured lung and multiple other serious injuries.
The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team, North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team, the coastguard helicopter and the North East Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team were involved in the rescue which took nearly three and a half hours.
GNAAS paramedic Jamie Walsh who treated Mrs Clark at the scene, said: “When we arrived I could see blood on a rock which we thought may have been where she hit her head. She had suffered some horrific injuries. It was a difficult rescue due to where she fell. It was a textbook case of a fantastic multi-agency response.”
Mr Walsh and air ambulance doctor Dion Arbid stabilised Mrs Clark by administering advanced treatment and pain relief while mountain rescuers set up a rope and pulley system to haul a stretcher up the vertical rock face, which was adjacent to the main waterfall.
Mrs Clark was then flown to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary where she spent nine days and underwent surgery on her back to have two plates fitted.
The self-employed dog groomer said: “It was the worst day of my life but it could have been 100 times worse. I could have been paralysed and never walked again.
“Everyone was awesome. From the first people at the scene through to all the after care.”
Mrs Clark also praised the charity’s pilot Jon Everitt. She said: “While medics kept me stable, the GNAAS pilot gave my daughter a blanket, a Mars Bar and lots of reassurance. He was fantastic. I am so grateful for his compassion.
“GNAAS are brilliant. Without them I wouldn’t be here. I don’t know what would have happened without them. I will be forever grateful.”
Mr and Mrs Clark met with paramedic Mr Walsh at the charity’s Durham Tees Valley Airport airbase to express their gratitude.
Mr Clark said: “With the extent of Jodi’s injuries, we were unsure whether she would be paralysed so to see her here and walking is remarkable. She has been extremely lucky.”
GNAAS is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary of becoming an independent registered charity. To find out how you can help, visit www.gnaas.com