CAPTAIN FOR A DAY: Carroll battles obstacles; gets to be ‘captain’ for local fire department

Published 7:30 am Saturday, September 4, 2021

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Four-year-old Reed Carroll has already faced so much in his young life after being diagnosed with chiari malformation type I. He was recently surprised by a visit from the Red Oak Area Volunteer Fire Department.

Lieutenant John Major Parker coordinated a visit by the department to the family’s home and allowed Reed to play the role of Captain Tuesday night. Parker said he first found out about his condition, tests, and possible surgery through his mother’s Facebook page.

Reed Carroll uses the department’s fire hose to spray Lieutenant Major Parker with assistance from his dad, Cole.

He shared how he related to Reed. “I, myself, spent a lot of time in the hospital as a child since I was a burn victim.”

His mother Kimberly shared Reed’s story from the day he came into this world.

“He was born with extra fluid around his brain and has seen neurologists since birth. A year and a half ago, they released us from Children’s Hospital and said the fluid would correct itself. He suddenly stopped breathing in his sleep a year ago, which led us on our journey and back to doctors’ offices. They were wrong about the fluid correcting itself, and now he has acquired chiari malformation type I,” she said.

Under normal circumstances, a brain operation called decompression surgery is performed to fix the condition. According to Reed’s mother, they discovered he has enlarged blood vessels on his brain, which is very rare.

She said, “This has made the surgery options for him different because it would be a high-risk surgery for him. He stops breathing every night several times a night for up to 12 seconds at a time. This is caused from the chiari. His condition is so rare because of the engorged vessels on his brain, which makes the operation he needs life-threatening.”

The family has made many trips to Vanderbilt University in Nashville and will soon be returning for an intracranial pressure monitor procedure.

“They will drill a hole in the top of his head and place a monitor there. He will be in ICU for 48 to 72 hours, and the operation will let the surgeons know if they can put a shunt in or if he will have no choice but to undergo the decompression operation. We are praying that doesn’t happen. He is a very active, loving, and happy little boy,” she said.

Kimberly added that he loves fire trucks and wants to be a firefighter when he grows up. Reed was able to ride in the front seat of the station’s new fire truck and call out over the loudspeaker. “I’m the Captain now!”

Reed Carroll speaks into the loudspeaker of the newest fire truck at the Red Oak Area Volunteer Fire Department.

Parker said that moment was the best part of their visit. “Hearing that happy boy say ‘I’m the Captain now!’ over the truck intercom loud enough for the whole neighborhood was priceless.”

He said the volunteer fire department wanted to come have fun with him after finding out about his love for fire trucks. “We wanted to share our passion as firefighters with him. It’s all about making a kid smile and making memories for them. We want to show them we do care for him and show another side of firefighting kids don’t get to see.”

Parker added that it meant the world to them to have the opportunity of seeing the smiles and laughs Reed had.

“The excitement on his face was something going home last night, and it choked me up some. It was just a heartfelt visit with Reed. Sometimes in life, you have to just take a pause and be servants of men. We truly believe this whole visit was more than we can ever imagine. Reed got the visit and was a happy little boy, but we all left more blessed than anyone could imagine and give God the thanks for it,” he said.

Cole and Kimberly Carroll reside in Andalusia with their daughter and two sons: Alex, Hutch, and Reed. “Please keep him in your prayers and encourage everyone to pray for him. I know prayer works, and it’s what my sweet baby needs right now,” she said.