EK’s Scott in Cuba to help

Ef­forts to bring Brits home

East Kilbride News - - CORONAVIRU­S COVID-19 -

NI­COLA FIND­LAY

An East Kil­bride For­eign Of­fice worker helped res­cue hun­dreds of stranded Brits from a coro­n­avirusstri­cken cruise ship in Cuba.

Scott Simp­son, 49, orig­i­nally from Green­hills and whose par­ents still live in the town, was part of the For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice’s (FCO) rapid de­ploy­ment team .

The mis­sion was to res­cue 671 vul­ner­a­ble Bri­tish pas­sen­gers and 13 for­eign na­tion­als stranded on the Fred Olsen cruise ship Brae­mar.

He was a team leader for the de­ploy­ment to Ha­vana and was among 17 For­eign & Com­mon­wealth Of­fice (FCO) of­fi­cials, along­side mem­bers of the Bri­tish Red Cross and army medics.

A num­ber of peo­ple on the ship had tested pos­i­tive for coro­n­avirus or had be­gun show­ing its symp­toms – a new con­tin­u­ous cough or a high fever.

Scott told the News: “The team demon­strated the very essence of what be­ing a civil ser­vant is about, help­ing peo­ple who couldn’t help them­selves and putting the in­ter­ests of oth­ers ahead their own.

“The pas­sen­gers must have had a ter­ri­bly stress­ful or­deal.

“But when at the air­port, I re­call the coaches ar­riv­ing one by one with pas­sen­gers smil­ing and wav­ing at me as they drove past, see­ing my high-vis vest with the Bri­tish flag on it.

“I hope this gave them re­as­sur­ance that their Gov­ern­ment was there for them in their time of need and help­ing to get them home.”

Af­ter sev­eral days at sea, and fol­low­ing ur­gent dis­cus­sions between the For­eign Sec­re­tary Do­minic Raab and the Cuban For­eign Min­is­ter, Cuba al­lowed the Brae­mar to dock in Ha­vana and agreed that the pas­sen­gers could fly out of José Martí In­ter­na­tional Air­port on four spe­cially or­gan­ised flights.

Scott flew out in ad­vance to assist with the prepa­ra­tion for en­sur­ing there were no is­sues at the Port and Air­port, de­liv­er­ing es­sen­tial med­i­cal sup­plies to the ship, giv­ing ad­vice to pas­sen­gers and work­ing with the Cuban au­thor­i­ties to en­sure the lo­gis­tics were in place for the flights to run smoothly.

He was then at the air­port to li­aise with the Cuban au­thor­i­ties and su­per­vise the de­par­ture of the Bri­tish Air­ways flights bring­ing the pas­sen­gers back to the UK.

Scott joined the FCO in 1991 and was Deputy Head of Mis­sion in the Bri­tish Em­bassy in Costa Rica from 2008 to 2013.

He has pre­vi­ously served in Thai­land, Peru and Greece.

The For­eign Of­fice’s Rapid De­ploy­ment Team was es­tab­lished af­ter the 2002 Bali bomb­ings and are al­ways on call to help deal with crises af­fect­ing Bri­tish na­tion­als around the world.

Vol­un­teers like Scott are on standby each week and de­ploy in un­der 24hours to assist a lo­cal team in an emer­gency.

Res­cue ef­fort Scott has been at the fore­front of at­tempts to re­turn Bri­tish na­tion­als stranded on a cruise ship off the coast of Cuba be­cause of fears of hav­ing coro­n­avirus

The first step The first Brits are loaded onto spe­cially ar­ranged flights to bring them home

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