A woman spent more than 12 hours stranded on the bank of the River Wear before she was able to call for help.
The rescue mission was sparked after the lady, believed to be in her 40s and suffering from hypothermia, dialled 999 on her phone after waking to find herself on the side of the water in North Hylton, cold and unable to get to safety.
HM Coastguard initially dispatched officers from its Sunderland Coastguard Rescue team, along with paramedics from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).
After finding the woman, coastguards decided that the safest way to carry out the rescue was her was to call for an inshore lifeboat from the RNLI and take her along the river.
Within minutes, Sunderland RNLI volunteer’s pagers were activated and the lifeboat launched.
When they arrived, they found the woman had already been placed on a stretcher by paramedics.
It is unclear exactly how long this lady had been lying on the riverbank, but we do understand that she had been there most of the day from the previous evening.Luke McGill
Using wooden pallets to create a pathway over the mud, they then transferred her to the boat, along with a paramedic and a member of the NEAS Hazardous Area Response Team.
The boat then went to Sunderland Marina, where she was transferred into a St John’s Ambulance and taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital suffering from hypothermia.
Luke McGill, helmsman at Sunderland RNLI said: “Due to the difficult terrain and the distance to the nearest road, it was decided that our lifeboat would be the easiest and safest means of evacuating the patient to safety.
“It is unclear exactly how long this lady had been lying on the riverbank, but we do understand that she had been there most of the day from the previous evening.
“Thankfully she had the presence of mind to dial 999 this afternoon and ask for help as her location would have made it very unlikely that she would have been seen by another passing individual.”
The call to the emergency services was made at 3pm yesterday.
Shortly before 5pm the lifeboat crew were cleared to the return to their station where the boat and equipment was washed off and cleaned ready for the next emergency call.
A video of part of the rescue can be seen online via http://bit.ly/2hn9JSb