A night out in Zwolle with my brother and a few of his friends Saturday night turned out totally different than planned. Around 3:45 am we walked back from the city center to my home and were quite surprised by the smell of fire. While I was wondering where the smell was coming from, Laurens discovered that the balcony of an apartment was on fire.
We ran straight to the apartment when we heard someone screaming: ”I already called the fireman!” Just to be sure, I decided to call the emergency services as well, while we screamed as loud as we could to wake up all the people in the building. ”Wake up! There is a fire! Fire!” Nobody seemed to notice us, because the whole apartment building stayed dark. I ran to the front of the building to ring all the doorbells, but it didn’t go the way I wanted. Luckily the first police car arrived and the first emergency services were on the scene. From that moment on, everything happened super fast and before I realized we were inside the building with the cops, trying to wake up all the people. I knocked on all the doors of the ground floor, while Laurens, Mart and Aron ran upstairs to wake up people on higher floors.
The fire has started on the balcony of one of the apartments on the first floor of an elderly home. It was heart breaking to wake up all the people in the middle of the night and have them leave the building. I will never forget the moment when an elderly man, just wearing his underwear, opend his door and looked at me surprised and wondering why someone was knocking on his door at 4am. I had to tell him the apartment above his, was on fire and he had to leave the building as soon as possible.
I walked outside with a few people and that’s when the firemen entered the building and we weren’t allowed to go back in. Mart and Aron exited the building around the same time as I did, but we couldn’t find Laurens anywhere. That caused quite a moment of panic, since he was on the floor where the fire had started. While we were worrying about Laurens, he was busy carrying a wheelchair depending man out of the building, together with a policeman. I am so proud of him, for actually helping to save someone’s life.
Taking care of the victims
Quite quick after calling the emergency services, they arrived at the scene. I noticed about nine firetrucks, quite some ambulances and a few police cars. At first the people who lived in the building that was on fire were getting together in the lobby of a flat next to the burning one. A lot of people decided to stay outside. Because it was quite cold and people were just wearing pj’s, Aron and I decided to run home and get some blankets and scarfs to keep the people warm. On our way back we ran into a couple at the parking lot and we asked if they had any blankets or scarfs. They didn’t; but they decided to come with us and help the people as much as they could.
Soon it was clear that all the people were able to sit in the canteen of a nearby elderly house: de Nieuwe Haven. The couple that I met on the parking lot walked around serving coffee and tea to all the people inside and everybody was very greatfull for all the help they got.
The residents were welcomed at the Nieuwe Haven and for a long time they had no idea what was going to happen to them. Everybody was in a state of disbelieve, but at the same time the ambiance was really calm. People were seated together in groups and everybody was talking, sometimes the chitchat was disturbed by barking of the dogs. Not just all the residents made it safely out of the building, but also a few cats and dogs made it out, with their owners.
Together with the couple of the parking lot (no idea how to call them otherwise), I served coffee, water and lemonade. Around 6 o’clock someone from the elderly home that we were in, decided to make sandwiches and I helped serving them. While I was helping out, I never got so many people saying thank you. Besides that I got the question if someone had called me out of bed to help out or that I was having quite a weird day at work. Most people were quite surprised when I told them I was coming straight out of the bar and actually on my way to bed.
Thanks to Laurens, Mart, Aron en all the emergency services
From the moment we discovered the fire, everything happened super fast. The emergency services arrived super quikly and were able to get all the residents out of the building. I was quite impressed by everything that happend around me and how all the people working for the emergency services entered a building on fire, risking their own lifes. I have so much respect for all the people who choose to work in a field like that and actually safe lives. I just can’t imagine there are crazy
people walking around this globe who actually attack the people who are just helping others.
I want to show my respect and a big thank you for everybody who chooses, in any way, to help others and choose a career that actually means something to other people. (and all the volunteers that make a difference.)
I also want to let Laurens, Aron and Mart know that I am very proud of the way you handled Saturday night! Without a doubt you walked to the floors of the fire, and the onse above to wake up all the people. You are real hero’s!