By Robbie Owens

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FLOWER MOUND (CBSDFW.COM) – A pep rally at Flower Mound’s Marcus High School today celebrated the biggest of wins: a life saved.

Last month, English teacher Ira Sherrill had a heart attack in class—and students didn’t hesitate.

“He mentioned several times that it was getting hotter in the room,” says senior Cy Kappelman, “because someone’s always messing with the thermostat.”

But, Sherrill wasn’t just hot: he was having a heart attack.

“Me and Hunter ran over to him, and I called 911 cause, like he said, there’s only so much we can do,” says classmate Bret Bonin.

Student Jessika LeMaster says she just happened to be in the hall when she saw the commotion and rushed to help as well. “I was holding his head, I was checking for a pulse, he was starting to turn blue,” says LeMaster, “so I undid his top button and undid his tie.”

Senior Jax Moren was one of the students who ran to get the school nurse, recalling the frantic moments that afternoon. “She did the AED, the defibrillator,” says Moren.

“They looked scared,” says Nurse Margot Ell, “so I thought, let me grab this and bring it down there. Maybe that was a God thing… [because] that saved so much time.”

And Sherrill didn’t have any to spare. After the initial shock with the AED, Ell began compressions. When her arms began to tire, Principal Gary Shafferman took over.

“If it wasn’t for what the kids did, what Margot did,” Shafferman recalls with a grateful and relieved shake of the head, “we were very fortunate. It was a team effort… it was everybody. It really made a difference.”

And no one is more grateful than the teacher, turned patient.

“I think they handled the situation much better than I would have,” says Sherrill, who has been teaching for some 30 years and drives from Gainesville to remain a part of the Marcus Family. So what can you say to such quick thinking young people? “Thanks for saving my life! Because I was gone for 4 and a half minutes,” says Sherrill.

Medical City Lewisville organized the award ceremony. Doctors there that treated Sherrill and say that had it not been for the quick, calm response of the Marcus campus, the beloved teacher may not have survived long enough to reach the hospital.

Ironically, he says he had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the day he had the heart attack—thinking arthritis or indigestion explained the pain in his arm and chest. His advice to others? Don’t delay if you suspect symptoms.

“I am so glad to be here,” says Sherrill, who returned to campus today for the first time to attend the pep rally. “And I cannot thank the Marcus students, faculty and staff enough—because there’s a reason that I’m here.”

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