June 22, 2018
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Two Maine teens take home gold in national Skills USA competition

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A Levant firefighter and a future Husson University student each won a gold medal at the Skills USA national competition held last week.

Joshua Cote, 18, of Levant won the top prize in the First Aid-CPR category at the 49th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday.

Danae Thompson, 17, of Howland, representing Northern Penobscot Technical Center of Lincoln, won gold in the Medical Terminology category.

Nearly 6,000 career and technical education students — all state contest winners — competed in 98 different trade, technical and leadership fields, according to the Skills USA website. Students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations like electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts.

“I’m extremely excited. I jumped up and was hollering and screaming [when it was announced]. Then I had to sit down because they thought I was going to faint,” said Laurie Thompson, Danae’s mother.

“I’m absolutely speechless,” Capt. Skip McIntosh of the Levant Fire Department said of Cote winning. “He’s the first person to win it from Levant fire.”

Cote said a great deal of effort went into preparing for the competition.

“The first thing is being willing to put forth the training,” said Cote. “I did a lot of practice and preparation.”

He was graded on a 1,000-point scale, but Cote said he didn’t know what his score was yet.

“Basically, we were graded on our ability to perform the skills,” Cote said. “To know the knowledge and steps you have to take.”

Cote said he was tested on first aid and CPR. He was given scenarios involving the use of an automatic external defibrillator on an adult, a child and an infant patient.

Thompson said she took a written test about medical words — how they’re spelled, what they mean, how they are used and abbreviations doctors use.

She recently graduated from Penobscot Valley High School in Howland and plans to attend Husson University in the fall to study occupational therapy.

“I’ll be helping people do what they need to do every day that they can’t do by themselves,” said Thompson. “I guess seeing people recover and have happy lives gives me a good feeling, knowing that I helped do that for them so they can live normally like everybody else.”

Thompson earned six certificates at Northern Penobscot Tech and was named student of the year, according to Mary Hawkes, school director.

“She’s been a pleasure to have,” said Hawkes. “She really exemplifies the core values of our school.”

McIntosh said Cote was recently promoted from a junior firefighter to a regular firefighter when he graduate high school. Cote attended United Technologies Center in Bangor for its public safety program.

Cote gave credit to his instructor for helping him win the gold medal.

“In my mind, he’s one of the best instructors in the nation, but he won’t accept any recognition for it,” he said.

Cote wouldn’t name the instructor because of a promise he made, but said the instructor had now helped guide four students to 14 gold medals at the state and national levels.

Being a firefighter and EMT is what Cote said he strives to be.

“That is my main goal — public safety. There’s not a career like it and I aim for that,” said Cote.

Victoria Grindle, representing Hancock County Technical Center in Ellsworth, won the silver in restaurant services.

Three teams from Maine took home bronze awards.

Tyler Dubay and James Cowin of United Technologies Center in Bangor won bronze for 3D Visualization and Animation; Simon French and Kelley Conary of Hancock County Technical Center won bronze for Television (Video) Production and Benjamin Lowit and Kyle M. Ridley of Lewiston Regional Technical Center won bronze for Urban Search and Rescue.

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