Michael Arms was honored with the Real Heroes award Thursday morning, along with 10 other local heroes.
However a nearby dog that had been struck by a car came to his side until he awoke.
Arms decided to establish the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter after his near-death experience because he wanted to give back to the dog who saved his life. Since then, the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter has taken in about 6 million pets, he said.
“If people could be as kind to each other as pets are to us, it would be a better world,” said Arms after the ceremony.
He and nine other San Diegans received an award for different categories at a breakfast ceremony on the USS Midway. The categories included Adult, Animal Rescue, Company, Fire and Rescue, Law Enforcement, Media, Medical, Military, Youth and the Wendell Cutting Humanitarian Award.
Rancho Bernardo teenager Steele Reed received the Youth award for administering the Heimlich maneuver to his friend at a Taco Bell, who choked on a taco shell. When Reed noticed his friend wasn’t speaking, he used the skills he learned at CPR training to save his friend.
The Red Cross awarded the Adult award to Sandy Lehmkuhler, who established the Wounded Warriors apartments for vets transitioning into civilian life.
“It’s part of what makes me happy – taking care of those warriors that need to be taken care of,” she said.
The Fire and Rescue Honorees were El Cajon Firefighter Robert Laatsch and Fire Engineer Jym Bridger, who launched a program to provide free helmets to kids in the city of El Cajon.
The Law Enforcement award was given to Luis Hernandez, who donated a kidney to save a co-worker’s life.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Carfaro was awarded the Military award for blocking a struck pedestrian from other cars on Oceanside Blvd. with his own car and gave aid to the pedestrian until medics could arrive.
Dr. Nick Yphantides started the website Healthsteward.com after he lost over 270 pounds – the Red Cross awarded him this year’s Medical award for connecting people with health support groups through his website.
The Wendell Cutting Humanitarian Honoree was awarded to Staff Sergeant Erik Sims, who volunteers with several organizations despite a brain injury he received during his deployment. He and his wife established the Northstar Group, which provides humanitarian aid to groups nearby and abroad.
The Media Award was given to public radio station KPBS for their crisis coverage and preparedness campaign, “Totally Unprepared.”
Red Cross honored Pacific Western Bank with the Corporation Award, which provides CPR and first aid training to all of its 130 employees.