By Bar Zukerman, MDA and Nora Peter, IFRC

A heroic high school student who stepped in to save the life of his physics teacher has hit the headlines in Israel.

Oli Refaeli, a volunteer with Israel’s Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s organization Magen David Adom (MDA), rushed to help Dr Marcus Hilsenret after he collapsed in a lesson at Gvanim High School in the Menashe region of northern Israel.

The 17-year-old was in the secretary’s office when two other students burst in to ask for help. Led by Oli, the group grabbed a first aid kit and ran to Dr Hilsenret’s classroom where he started CPR.

“When I realized that Dr Hilsenret’s heart had stopped, I knew we had to act fast,” said Oli, who had taken part in first aid course with MDA before becoming a volunteer with its paramedic teams.

“The teacher asked me if I knew what to do, and I said I did.  We took turns to do CPR while an MDA ambulance was called.”

Following the instructions of call handler Sherry Klein over the phone and helped by school secretary Chen Fleck and teacher Chenny Cohen, Oli grabbed the defibrillator placed at the school at brought to the scene. After seven minutes of CPR and two electric shocks,  the 61-year-old suddenly started breathing.

Oli’s classroom courage has made national news in Israel and he has been reunited with his teacher who is now out of hospital and has made a full recovery.

“The first thing that crossed my mind was that as an MDA volunteer I must go and help, I knew I couldn’t sit on the sidelines,” Oli said.

“While it was happening, a kind of mechanical mode kicked in, and I had to treat him as if I didn’t know him.”

Dr Hilsenret paid tribute to the youngster who undoubtedly saved his life.

“If it wasn’t for Oli and his help along with the school staff, it would have been certain death for me,” he said.

And as not all public places in Israel have defibrilators, Dr Hilsenret says ensuring the equipment is available is crucial.

“I thank the school principal who had a big part in saving my life because she had bought a defibrillator – I am a living proof that defibrillators must be present in all public places and schools,” he said.