BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — It was just like any other practice for the Westview High School boys lacrosse team until a ball to the chest stopped sophomore Colby Clay’s heart.
At first, teammates thought Clay was joking around, stumbling and clutching his chest like any player who takes a hit. The ball had somehow hit him directly on the chest instead of on the padding.
It wasn’t until Clay fell over that senior Ben Wu jumped into action, using skills he learned in the Health Careers Pathway program to assess Clay’s condition.
Wu said he looked for pulse, respiration and consciousness. Clay was gasping for breath and Wu knew that meant he wasn’t getting the oxygen he needed.
Wu remained calm and started doing chest compressions. Meanwhile senior Ben Balzer ran for his phone to call 911.
Eventually, a school nurse and trainer from a nearby baseball game arrived for support, but Wu continued until EMS arrived.
“In the moment I understood that if I didn’t do anything, he would die, Wu said.
EMS shocked Clay with an AED before taking him to the hospital, where he woke up and learned about what happened from his mom.
“If he hadn’t have given me CPR right away, I could have been permanently damaged and because of him I’m alive and well,” Clay said
Wu, who wants to be a doctor, credits Westview’s Health Careers program with giving him the skills to be composed and do what needed to be done.
“It’s just something you always train for,” Wu said. “In Health Careers they tell us to maintain composure and as a lifeguard you have to be able to provide care whenever needed.”
Wu said there were moments when he thought Clay was going to die, but he kept doing compressions.
The weight of what happened didn’t hit him until after EMS took over.
“After that, all the emotion came out and I started crying but during that moment I was crystal clear focused on what I had to do,” Wu said.
Balzer said it was amazing to see how the whole team stayed calm and did what they could to help.
“As bad as the situation was, it couldn’t have gone any more perfect than it did,” Balzer said. “Nobody freaking out, everyone helping to do what they could.”
Thankfully, Clay is doing well now. He said after he left the hospital, his family took a trip to the beach and he can do light exercise. He’s wearing a heart monitor for now, but plans to return to lacrosse.
He said his grandma and parents both bought him new, better pads to protect his chest.
“I can’t thank [Ben Wu] enough. What he did is incredible and he’s really humble,” Clay said. “I was reading through comments on Facebook and everyone’s thanking him and he deserves it because he’s a really good guy. And Ben Balzer, he’s really humble too. I just appreciate what both of them did for me, it’s really special because I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”