Firefighters Use Ladder To Let Family Say Last Goodbye

Story ByMichael Leidig, Sub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyCentral European News


A family of a desperately ill man got to say their last goodbyes to their elderly relative in a locked down residential care home after firemen lifted them up to his fourth-floor window on an extendable ladder.

The family were told that Henry Nijhove, 87, was unlikely to live much longer after his health took a turn for the worse.

It was not related to the coronavirus, but because of the restrictions, in particular on visitors to elderly care homes, such as the one where Henry is being cared for, his family were unable to visit him to say goodbye. The home, like others in the country, has stopped accepting visitors to prevent the risk that infection would be bought in by someone from outside.

But when the local fire brigade were notified of the problem by Henry’s granddaughter, Chante, they readily agreed to help. She told them she desperately wanted to make sure that her grandfather did not pass away without the chance to say goodbye.

The fire crew turned up at the Anton de Komplein residential care home in Amsterdam with a ladder and arranged for family members to be lifted up so they could say their farewells. They were lifted up to his window in pairs on the extendable ladder where they could talk to him one last time. In total they were at the hospital for 4 hours through the kipped window.

A fire brigade spokesman said that when Chante called they had no hesitation in immediately saying yes. And Chante said afterwards: “I have no words to express how grateful I am that this was even possible, and that we were allowed to do this. It’s like I said, we are a really close family, and my grandfather is really everything to us.”

She added the emotional meeting through the window ensured that he had a good day, and later she wrote on Facebook that she was “more than grateful. I don’t have any other words.”

She said the family had not been able to see him since 19th March and were confronted with the possibility that they might never see him again before he died, which made her determined to “come up with something to be able to visit him ‘physically’ one more time”.

She added: “I decided to be a bit naughty, and contacted the fire brigade. I didn’t write any fancy letters, I just called them and told them the story.”

And she said she was rewarded with an affirmative, quoting her grandmother who she said always told her “those who do good get good”.

Henry’s daughter Mildred also thanked the fire crews for what they did, and said they wanted to show Henry that everybody in the family loved him and was there for him, and added: “This was pretty much the only way he could see his grandchildren again.”

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