FIVE emergency services were called out after a lady fell part way down a gully from the Arbroath cliff top walk at about 12.15 p.m on Sunday.
The 42-year-old suffered suspected spinal injuries and was airlifted from the scene by a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet at Prestwick to Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.
Both Arbroath lifeboats, RNLB ‘Inchcape’ and the inshore lifeboat, RNLB ‘Duncan Ferguson’, were launched and stood offshore as the rescue progressed.
A team comprising Allan Russell, Andrew Spence and Peter Willis was landed at the base of the cliff with a spinal board and other equipment and made its way to where the casualty was lying.
A coastguard team was also called out as were police and paramedics.
The casualty had been walking along the cliff top path when she stumbled near the path down the Needle’s E’e. Although she did not fall far, she landed awkwardly halfway down the cliff and complained of numbness in her upper body and hands.
Members of her family and other walkers comforted her until help arrived. The situation was not helped by the fact that she did not speak much English, but her daughter translated.
Once she had been placed in a spinal board and winched into the helicopter, both Arbroath lifeboats returned to station and the coastguard rescue team recovered their equipment and stood down.
Forth Coastguard rescue officer Scott Constantine said that the victim had not fallen far, but the incident had been enough to ruin her day.
He explained that the woman had not seemed to be suffering any obvious pain but had problems with feeling in her upper body so some sort of spinal injury was suspected.
Mr Constantine stressed that the best course of action in any kind of spinal case is to fly the casualty out as bringing them up the cliff face can be bumpy.
He revealed that the lady had been conscious throughout the rescue and was not in any obvious pain so there was no need to use heavy painkillers.
Warning notices and fencing at the clifftop walk erected following a recent landslip were torn down by vandals and no signs were evident on Sunday.
A spokesman for Forth Coastguard commented: “The Coastguard frequently warn members of the public to stay away from cliff edges, as they can often be crumbly or slippery in wet weather.
“Always stay on marked cliff paths and take heed of any warning signs, fences or barriers that may be in place.”