The alarm was raised shortly after 08.30 after a woman was seen to be walking at the base of Tynemouth pier.
The sea was rough with large waves breaking over the pier.
Humber Coastguard launched both Tynemouth all-weather and inshore RNLI lifeboats, Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat, an RAF rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer and also tasked the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade to assist on shore.
Arriving on scene shortly after launching the Tynemouth inshore lifeboat put a crewmember halfway along the pier, as well as one from the Cullercoats lifeboat.
Volunteer crewman Alun Ross climbed down a ladder and entered the water, and managed to take hold of the woman and walk along with her back towards the ladder but a large wave broke over them, snatching her from his grip and washing her into the sea, out of his reach.
The RAF rescue helicopter had arrived and lowered their winchman who managed to locate the woman soon after and winch her onto the helicopter, which took her to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. Her condition is unknown.