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Bystanders who tried to save Cpl. Cirillo recall soldier’s last moments

WATCH ABOVE: Martin Magnan describes the scene as he and other bystanders tried to save Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s life.

As Cpl. Nathan Cirillo lay dying near the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday, a team of strangers worked together like a well-oiled machine to try to keep the reservist from Hamilton, Ont., alive.

“It was very unusual,” said Martin Magnan, who elevated the fallen soldier’s feet while Ottawa lawyer Barbara Winters, once a reservist herself, started chest compressions.

“We were all talking to each other; we were all kind of motivating each other a little bit. Everyone’s playing a different part. And we all worked really, really well together.”

READ MORE: ‘You are so loved,’ lawyer tells Nathan Cirillo as she tries to save his life

Margaret Lerhe, a nurse who was also present at the scene, said she felt it was their duty to help the fallen soldier.

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“They look after us and we were able, for 10 minutes, to look after them,” Lerhe said during an interview for The West Block with Tom Clark. “You know, it’s really an honour.”

WATCH: Ottawa lawyer Barbara Winters and nurse Margaret Lerhe discuss the harrowing scene at the War Memorial as they attempted to save Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s life. The full interview with Winters and Lerhe will air on The West Block on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. ET and 10:00 a.m. MT/PT.

By the end of the experience, the strangers felt like a family, said Magnan.

“These girls, they seem like my sisters now,” he said, referring to Winters and Lerhe. “It’s funny [because] I hardly know them at all.”

Cirillo died in the strangers’ arms as they worked to try to revive him.

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Magnan said his hands were shaking when the ambulance arrived to take Cirillo to hospital.

“There was a great sense of wonder,” he said. “You’re looking around and the police are there, the ambulance is moving and there’s so much strange energy to it. I didn’t really feel a whole lot except a real sense of awe and a real sense of unknowing and a real sadness.”

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