Jacksonville security guard awarded college scholarship for saving firefighter’s life

Davay Kinsey, 39, was presented Monday with the FSCJ President’s Heroism Award

Davay Kinsey, 39, was presented Monday with the FSCJ President’s Heroism Award

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A UF Health Jacksonville security officer credited with saving the life of a firefighter who was stabbed in the line of duty was awarded a college scholarship Monday in recognition of her heroism.

City and community leaders presented security officer and Air Force veteran Davay Kinsey with the Florida State College at Jacksonville President’s Heroism Award and a scholarship to the college’s Fire Academy of the South, so she can accomplish her goal of becoming an emergency medical technician.

“It’s outrageous that someone would attack those who willingly risk their lives for us on a day-in, day-out basis,” Mayor Lenny Curry said Monday. “But that night could have been much worse if not for the brave and decisive actions of Davay Kinsey on duty as a security officer at UF Health Jacksonville.”

Kinsey, a 1998 graduate of Wolfson High School, has been working as a security officer at the hospital since leaving the Air Force after a dozen years of service. For her, Oct. 8 was an ordinary night until she heard the call go out that two Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department firefighters had been stabbed by a patient in an ambulance a few blocks from the hospital.

When the ambulance arrived, Kinsey could tell that one of the firefighters – Capt. Latorrence Norris – was bleeding heavily and required immediate attention. Then her training and experience took over. Instead of waiting for paramedics, she sprung into action and loaded him into her golf cart and rushed him to the trauma center so his injuries could be treated.

“He was cradled over, he could barely speak, he obviously had a collapsed lung,” Kinsey recalled. “But I was communicating with him the whole way, making sure that he was still with me.”

It was Kinsey’s split-second decision that both doctors and Fire Chief Keith Powers credit with making all the difference. Norris, who was slashed several times in the chest and abdomen, underwent surgery and was later upgraded to stable condition before his release from the hospital.

“From the moment I met Davay, I immediately identified qualities of strength, confidence, teamwork and leadership,” Chief Powers said. “Her compassion and desire to help others is exactly what we are looking for in the fire service.”

FSCJ President Dr. John Avendano said Powers was so moved by Kinsey’s response that night, he reached out to Dr. Charles Moreland, the city’s director of community affairs and an alumnus of FSCJ. Together, they and other community leaders wanted to find a way to show their gratitude.

“What better way to do that than to help her achieve her own personal and professional goal?” he said. “ … She has certainly proven she has what it takes to excel in real-world emergency situations, and we know that with this training and instruction, she has a bright future ahead of her."

Added Moreland: “When our firefighter was bleeding all over the place, to get him on that golf cart and take him to the trauma center, that right there sold me on her.”

The award means Kinsey can fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter by going to college next semester -- without worrying about the cost of tuition, books and fees. It’s beyond humbling for the single mother.

“I saved this person’s life,” Kinsey said. “That’s a very humbling thought, that I was able to assist him.”

Kinsey, who turns 40 on Jan. 21, admitted she’s anxious about the new opportunity. But she can’t wait to embrace the new family that she said has already accepted her into their lives.

“They see me when they come in and out of the hospital,” she said. “We’re constantly hugging each other and even now they’re doing that with me now, so they’re already inviting me into that family, and I feel the love from them.”

So, what’s next for this hometown hero? Well, the mayor has an idea.

“You’re completely deserving of the awards you’re receiving today,” Curry told Kinsey. “And it’s my hope that when you complete your training here at the Fire Academy of the South, you’ll join the 1,500 brave men and women of the greatest fire and rescue department in the country.”

About the Author:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.