Disasters at Gaba Corporation
You are a Gaba Kids instructor. You have a shy five year old boy next to you who knows a lot of animal names and can count to 30 and reply to English greetings. You arrived in Japan six months ago and can barely speak any Japanese. An earthquake hits, your first.
The building shakes, the flimsy partition walls sway. You look at the glass above you and wonder - will it break? Someone told you a booth exploded in Omiya LS during the March 11th earthquake.
In the booth across the aisle, you can see another instructor and their adult client. They are holding their breath, and the client seems to be on the verge of tears. No LS staff are visible. The ISL is away today. You remember someone saying you should NEVER leave the booth during a lesson. Does that apply now?
They gave you that plastic emergency contact card during initial cert with a phone number, but that doesn't seem very practical right now. You remember how your friend said at her company everyone has helmets and a backpack of supplies under the desk. The building sways and as the boy next to you looks up at you with scared eyes you hear the buildings intercom crackle and some formal Japanese comes out. You look down and wonder for a moment if your five year old client can translate.
As the wall creaks you wonder "Shouldn't I have been trained for this? March 11 was not that long ago! What should I do?"
On a number of occasions the GU has raised emergency safety with Gaba. Last year we asked for drills at all Learning Studios but it hasn't happened. Gaba staff at the Support Center had one last year, but at the Learning Studios where over a thousand instructors work and tens of thousands of clients attend lessons, the company has not prepared.
In the last week of May there were two large quakes that rocked the Kanto area. There are no scripts for what instructors should say to clients, no drills to know what to do, no helmets under the desks, and no clear rules about what to do with young students.
The parents of Gaba Kids clients often leave the LS while the elementary school age kids have lessons. How do we take care of them in an evacuation? Do their parents know the evacuation sites? How will counselors contact them to let them know?
The approach at the company seems to be that LS staff like ISLs do training for this. In practice, this falls short, and these things NEED to be shared with instructors. There needs to be real preparedness. Posters on the break room wall showing an evacuation site is is a first step, but not enough to really be ready. The GU has just sent another letter to Gaba asking what the company has done since last year to prepare. Please feel free to ask your ISL or other LS staff the same questions. Gaba's preparations need to improve and be shared with instructors. If you would like to take the GU's survey about instructor's preparedness for emergencies, please click here.
June 10, 2015