MOUNT OLIVE -- Patrolman Ian Dillard with the Mount Olive Police Department saw a trail of blood on the railroad tracks.

Dillard, 28, followed the tracks on Center Street and came upon a man bleeding from a gunshot wound to the groin. He saw people staring at the man and even recording him with their cellphones, but no one was trying to help him.

"That's when my training kicked in," Dillard said. "I just didn't really think about what it was I was doing. It was just, I need to be doing it."

He immediately applied pressure to the wound and kept it up while an ambulance took the man to Wayne Memorial Hospital.

The man lived.

For Dillard's action that day in November, he received the department's Life Saving Award on Monday night at a meeting of the town board.

Police Chief Tommy Brown said it was the first time a Mount Olive officer has received the award in the nearly 20 years he has been on the force.

Brown said the man was shot at the corner of Center Street and Maple Street on Nov. 7 shortly before noon. He said the man had walked 1,000 yards along the railroad tracks, bleeding all the way, before Dillard arrived.

Dr. Terry Grant, who initially treated the man at the hospital, informed Brown the man was bleeding from an artery and would have died if Dillard had not applied pressure for that length of time.

"I believe that God is in control of life and death, and he puts people where they need to be to facilitate that," Dillard said. "He just blessed me to be at the right place at the right time."

Dillard also received the officer of the quarter award, which Brown said Dillard received in 2015 as well.

Sgt. Wes Aldridge, patrolman Jesse Spence and patrolman Blake Turner were awarded with letters of commendation for locating four suspects who broke into a U.S. Cellular store in Mount Olive last December.

Brown said Aldridge was called to the store on N.C. 55 on Dec. 21 at 4:33 a.m. He said Aldridge saw a vehicle leaving the store's parking lot, and Aldridge noticed the license plate was covered by a bandanna. Aldridge then contacted Spence for backup and asked Turner to investigate the store. Three people were arrested that day, and one was arrested later after he fled the scene.

The greatest thing about the arrests was the unlawfully possessed handgun which was confiscated by officers, and "it can no longer be used for criminal activity," Brown said.

"To see their work come across my desk, to see it firsthand, and then to award them and acknowledge them for a job they go out and do day in and day out on a daily basis, I feel very fortunate," Brown said.

Dillard said he has not seen the man since the incident at the railroad tracks, but he said he will not forget that day.

"When I was looking at that man laying out there I didn't see a black man, I didn't see a criminal past," Dillard said. "I saw a human being that was bleeding red -- the same color I would bleed if I was there."