Prince Harry meets with members of Medical Teams International at Triplex, the preeminent disaster response gathering

Prince Harry meets with members of Medical Teams International at Triplex, the preeminent disaster response gathering.

Though the humanitarian response was just a simulation for humanitarian aid workers from around the globe, one royal VIP was very real.

Prince Harry swung through the preeminent humanitarian response exercise in the world late last month, even spending a few minutes with representatives of Medical Teams International for a short confab.

It happened at Triplex, the Norway-based simulation of the first 72 hours of a large-scale, sudden-onset disaster. Medical Teams International took part in the five-day exercise from Sept. 24-30, alongside aid organizations from around the world.

Prince Harry made his surprise visit by helicopter, dropping in on the action to learn more about the coordination efforts and to mingle with aid workers.

Prince Harry’s presence added an extra dash of reality to the largest coordinated humanitarian activity outside an actual, real-world crisis. The simulation, with its royal visitor, ended just days before a real-life storm began threatening the Caribbean.

Involving 500 people from 76 countries, Triplex places aid workers in the midst of a simulated humanitarian response. They set up camp, coordinate with the United Nations and even assess and “treat” actors playing disaster victims.

Medical Teams International sent six representatives – including two medical volunteers – to Norway to take part in the exercise, paid for by the European Union.

Roger Sandberg, director of Medical Teams’ Humanitarian Response Team, said it was important to test emergency preparedness, coordination and assessment in the field and at HQ. “It’s a big commitment for everyone involved,” Sandberg said of the simulation, which is held every three years.

The simulation further improves Medical Teams’ ability to mobilize a response in the event of a crisis, Sandberg said. Medical Teams recently dispatched volunteer doctors and nurses to operate mobile medical units in communities leveled by Hurricane Matthew. This team is seeing dozens of patients a day, some of whom suffer from bodily trauma while others are at risk of contracting serious illnesses.

The disaster simulated during Triplex was a hurricane sweeping through an imaginary country called “Sorland” already suffering from high flooding.

The next Triplex won’t be held until 2019, with two years of planning taking place before it commences. Medical Teams plans to take part in the next Triplex to continue improving our ability to respond to disasters and help people in need.