Ron Rubin is glad his heart is still beating, and he wants the heartbeats of North Coast visitors and workers to be restarted like his was nine years ago.
Now age 69, the food and beverage entrepreneur is a year into a campaign to place at 450 local wineries at least one automated external defibrillator, like the one that saved him. Since launching the effort Nov. 23, 2017, roughly 1,000 staff members at 176 vintners have been certified by the American Red Cross in CPR, AED use and first aid, and the facilities have received a $1,700 Zoll AED Plus device.
“If you collapse, it’s a race against the clock,” said Rubin, who today has an implanted defibrillator to make sure the beat goes on. “The survival rate is much higher if you have an AED.”
Sudden cardiac arrest, when the heart suddenly stops beating, is a leading cause of death in the U.S., killing nearly 367,000 outside hospitals in 2015, according to the American Heart Association. About 10,000 of those deaths happen in the workplace.
When the heart stops totally, death can come within 10 minutes, which is why health organizations have been promoting hands-only CPR to keep blood moving until help arrives. About 45 percent of those struck by cardiac arrest survive if bystanders start CPR, and the American Red Cross estimates that AEDs can save 50,000 lives annually.
For some remote locations in the North Coast, that response can be several minutes or more away, so staff should be trained to step in to help until responders relieve them, Rubin said.
So far, none of the participating wineries have had to use their AEDs, he said.
“We will save somebody’s life. I don’t know when,” Rubin said.
Ron Rubin Winery is covering the cost of the AEDs (ronrubinwinery.com/aed-how-to). For wineries, the cost is for the trainers, averaging $360 for six workers, and six hours of staff time. One Red Cross trainer can work with 12 employees. Certification is good for two years.
Wineries that have gone through the program include Frey Vineyards in Mendocino County’s Redwood Valley, The Hess Collection in Napa Valley and Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County.
Most of the devices are being placed in tasting rooms or hospitality centers, Rubin said. Some vintners are bringing in vineyard workers for training. A few have secured multiple devices for their tasting rooms, cellars and vineyards.
Some vintners have been concerned about legal liability from installing AEDs, Rubin said. California law has been updated in recent years to include AEDs under “Good Samaritan” protections for good-faith efforts to help.
Rubin got into the wine business by way of beverage wholesaling and specialty tea. He studied viticulture and enology at University of California, Davis, in 1971 then spent 22 years at his family’s Illinois-based specialty beverage wholesale business then going out on his own. Nineteen years ago, he became owner of The Republic of Tea in Novato. In 2011 he expanded into wine, buying River Road Family Vineyards and Winery in Russian River Valley.
Wine, Beer + Spirits Industry Awards special recognition: Ron Rubin
Owner and CEO
Ron Rubin Winery
5220 Ross Road, Sebastopol, CA