OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — A year ago Sunday, a dramatic birthday could have been cause for tragedy, but the quick actions of several staff members at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort made for a happy anniversary.
Baby Diana Feltsan was delivered two months premature by Nick Gardner, a lifeguard at the resort. The anniversary of her dramatic birth was cause for the celebrating on Sunday.
Diana, who turned 1 year old Sunday, was the first baby ever to be born at the resort, as far as resort General Manager Pam Dahl can remember.
Dahl, who has worked at the resort for about two decades, said that when Anna Feltsan, Diana’s mother, went into labor one year ago, the resort was shut down and the staff went in search of help.
“I was at home that day — my first day off in three weeks — but we saw a lot of lights of the rangers’ cars blinking down the road, so I turned on the scanner and heard my office manager calling for a air evacuation,” Dahl said.
Feltsan delivered Diana in less than 20 minutes at the resort, which is about 15 miles into the rugged Olympic National Park from U.S. Highway 101.
The baby was two months premature, which was cause to worry for Feltsan and her husband, Ivan, both of whom moved to Kent from the Ukraine four years ago.
“When I had my first baby, he was two months premature, too, but when he was born, he had cerebral palsy,” she said through a translator.
“But she turned out just fine and healthy.
“It was all in God’s hands.”
The staff at Sol Duc jumped into action, Dahl said.
“We had Nick Gardner, who is in the Coast Guard but works part time for us as well as a lifeguard,” she said.
“He delivered the baby, and my office manager [Steffini Startup] rushed to look through the first aid kit.
“Just the week before, she had done an inventory of our supplies and had noticed that there was a birthing kit.
“It was so lucky that she had happened to notice that because even I hadn’t known we had one out here.”
Both Feltsan and Dahl credit Gardner with saving the day.
“What could have been a tragic situation, Nick turned into a happy and successful experience,” Dahl said.
Gardner not only delivered the baby in the make-shift delivery room in the resort, but he also got the baby to breathe on its own.
“Nick had had training where he learned how to deliver a baby,” Dahl said.
“He later told me that during those classes he was thinking, ‘When will I ever be able to use that?’
“But it came in really handy for this situation.”
Also by coincidence, Dr. Scott Kennedy, chief of medicine at Olympic Medical Center, had brought his children to swim in the hot springs.
“We really enjoy coming out here to swim,” he said.
“So when I heard what was happening, I went to go check out both the mom and the baby.
“By the time I got there the baby was already delivered — it was really Nick who saved the day.”
Feltsan said she was nervous about traveling by helicopter, so Kennedy was able to clear her to ride in the ambulance, he said.
The pair were transported to Olympic Medical Center, where Feltsan was cared for and released.
Diana’s lungs hadn’t quite developed yet, so she was transported by helicopter to Providence Pavilion for Women and Children in Everett — closer to her parents’ home in Kent.
“I went to visit her every day for a month while her lungs developed,” Feltsan said.
But now Diana is a healthy and happy 1-year-old, she said.
“She is 100 percent in everything — size and weight — and she is so smart,” Feltsan said.
Feltsan said she hopes to celebrate each of Diana’s birthdays at the resort in commemoration of her dramatic birthday.
Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.