On 15 February, 2018, my eldest son and I decided to go for a walk along the South West Coastal Path from Start Point to Lannacombe.

It was a glorious day with bright blue skies following the rain of the previous day. We had on our walking boots and were prepared for the walk, which we had done before.

We parked at the Start Point carpark and went on our way.  All was going well until we were on a section of path towards Lannacombe. We had been avoiding muddy parts, but at this point on the path there was gorse either side and so we had to tread in mud from time to time. I put my right foot into one muddy patch which turned out to be deeper than other parts so when I came to make a step I couldn’t! I heard a crack so knew I had done something serious. My son helped me up, but although I could stand on my feet I couldn’t walk! So he helped me to a patch of grass and went to ring for help.

First to arrive were the Volunteer Coastguards who made me more comfortable and reassured me, but they were already wondering how I was going to get back.

Two paramedics then arrived who cut my boot off and gave me two lots of morphine. It was agreed that it was too far to carry me to the Start Point Carpark where the land Ambulance was, so the Air Ambulance was called. At one point they thought I may have to be winched up, but the coastguards managed to find some grass further towards Lannacombe between the cliff and the sea, so the skilful pilot landed the helicopter there.  

I was extremely relieved when I saw the air ambulance approaching as that meant I would soon be on my way. The doctor and paramedics arrived at the scene and agreed the helicopter would lift me to the land ambulance, leaving the helicopter available in case someone else needed it.  

The land ambulance paramedics left me so they could get back to their ambulance in anticipation of my arrival by helicopter. The air paramedics, with the help of the Coastguards, carried me to the helicopter, even tackling a barbed wire fence. My son wanted to travel with me, but with a full team on board there wasn’t room, so he hotfooted it back to the car park.

I wanted to sit up in the helicopter to enjoy the views, but had to remain lying down. Thankfully the ride was extremely smooth and I could enjoy the view of the blue sky from my stretcher. We landed at the car park not long before the land paramedics had returned and they then transferred me to Torbay Hospital. 

I have nothing but praise and admiration for the people who helped me that day, from the Volunteer Coastguards who looked after me so well and sorted out a place for the air ambulance to land; to the land ambulance paramedics and, of course, the whole Devon Air Ambulance team who were so professional, reassuring and calm. Without them goodness knows how I would have got out of that predicament.

At hospital I learned that I had sustained a spiral fracture of the right fibula, a break to the medial malleolus and when I was having my operation they discovered I had broken the tibia too! Eight months on I am still struggling to walk properly and I am still receiving physio, but I do keep reminding myself of what I was like 3, 6 and 8 months ago!

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Left: volunteer coastguards help carry Angela to the awaiting air ambulance.
Right: the air ambulance takes Angela to the land ambulance to free up the air ambulance for subsequent emergencies.