West Campus

Alum’s CPR saves infant’s life in role as Santa Clara deputy

Santa Clara County Deputy Rick Chaeff, D.C., center, was honored on Aug. 21, by the San Jose Board of Supervisors and the Santa Clara County Society of the California Chiropractic Association, for saving the life of baby Isys Brown. She is seen here being held by grandmother Maria Adelman. Also attending the event was mother Bernice Brown, right.
Maria Adelman, baby Isys Brown, Dr. Rick Chaeff, and Bernice Brown

While Rick Chaeff, D.C., West ’87, is a deputy with the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department, he also continues to practice chiropractic. In June of 2010, he drew on his devotion to helping others by saving the life of a 17-day-old infant.

The incident occurred after the baby’s mother and grandmother, who had been racing to the nearest hospital to take the infant, spotted Dr. Chaeff’s police car outside a restaurant. After the grandmother ran in and cried for help, Dr. Chaeff performed CPR several times. Fortunately, on the fifth attempt, Dr. Chaeff was able to get her breathing again before she was rushed to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

“It’s obviously terrifying when you have a two-week-old infant in your arms, and it was a bit wild for a while; but it worked out as well as it could have,” says Dr. Chaeff, who has served as tactical medical team leader of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team since 1997.

On August 21, the San Jose Board of Supervisors and the Santa Clara County Society of the California Chiropractic Association (CCA) honored Dr. Chaeff’s dedication to helping others.

“The life-saving effort that Dr. Chaeff performed, highlights not only his personal expertise, but also the high level of education and professional training that a Doctor of Chiropractic receives,” said Robert Chatfield, D.C., a 1983 West Campus alumnus and alternate director of the local CCA chapter. Also attending were West Campus alumni and CCA officers Brad Kobsar, D.C., ’95, and Stacey Adams-Hammond, ’02, in the award presentation.

He also was praised by a teary-eyed Maria Adelman, the grandmother of the infant (Isys Brown). “I am so grateful,” she said. “A thousand thank-yous or words in the dictionary won’t be enough,” said Ms. Adelman. “People say there are angels here on Earth, and there are.”

“I didn’t know anything about chiropractic before the incident, and obviously I didn’t know (Dr. Chaeff) was a chiropractor when we saw the patrol car, and stopped,” said the baby’s mother, Bernice Brown. “But what I do know now is that his training helped save my baby’s life.”

“It was an honor to receive the award from the Board of Supervisors, but I’m equally honored to be recognized by my chiropractic peers,” says Dr. Chaeff. As a Palmer alumnus and former instructor at the West Campus, I’m forever ‘true to my school,’ and my alma mater will always be an important part of my education and life.”

As a faculty member from 1987 to 1997, Dr. Chaeff taught an emergency procedures course, certifying nearly 1,000 students in CPR. By last summer, he’d performed CPR several times— but never on an infant, nor under such stressful conditions. He also provides chiropractic care for police officers and members of the San Jose Ballet Company.

“If students learn anything from my experience, I hope they see what a great education that Palmer provides in preparing its students for the clinical challenges they will see in practice,” says Dr. Chaeff.

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