Ravell Call, Deseret News
Herriman High School plays Orem High School in football in Orem, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.

OREM — Orem High sophomore football player Ben Smith collapsed and lost consciousness during off-season conditioning drills Thursday afternoon at the school, then received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from Orem football coach Tyler Anderson before being transported by ambulance to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Doctors are crediting Anderson’s swift actions for helping save the 16-year-old’s life.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time,” Orem principal Mike Browning said. “The only thing I can say is we’re grateful for my coaches who were able to step in and be there at the right time and have the training. Between them and the great actions of the Orem paramedics they did a wonderful job and have this young man in good as shape as possible.”

While receiving treatment, medical personnel detected an underlining heart condition and elected to put Smith into a medically-induced coma. As of Friday morning, Smith is breathing and his heart is beating voluntarily. Doctors plan to awaken him this afternoon.

Up until Thursday, Smith — who maintains a 4.0 GPA — hadn’t displayed any signs of potential health complications.

The exact heart condition has yet to be released.

“It’s kind of a waiting game to see what the status will be once they pull him out (of the coma),” said Alpine School District spokesperson Rhonda Bromley. “Right now they’re saying it’s not life-threatening, however, it was at first. They will know more about his situation and will be able to assess things once he comes out of this coma.”

Smith initially collapsed during the drill but did not lose consciousness, prompting Anderson and assistant coaches to hydrate him out of fear of dehydration. Shortly thereafter, he went unconscious. Anderson reverted back to his medical training at that point.

“It’s a requirement in our district that they all be trained in first aid and CPR,” Bromley said. “The training of the coaches does happen every single year and this is just evidence of how important that coaches take that seriously so that they’re ready.”

Orem students paid homage to Smith by decorating posters and attending school Friday in formal attire.

“Word spread pretty quickly and kids are dressed up in honor of him. Lots of boys in white shirts and ties and girls in dresses to show support for him,” Bromley said. “They have posters set up in the common area today to allow kids the opportunity to sign and let them know they’re thinking of him and praying for him.

“His brother, Jeremiah, who is a junior at Orem, is going to take those posters and hang them all around his room at the hospital so when he does wake up he can see how many people are thinking about him.”

Anderson was not available for comment.

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