Insight & Analysis

Help! My homework is killing me!

Published: Oct 2018

If ever the work gets a little too intense, don’t take a leaf out of this young lad’s book.

Finding himself struggling with his maths homework, a Fort Collins, Colorado student dialled 911 to try his luck with the local emergency services.

In a recording of the ensuing conversation the ten-year old can be heard saying: “Hi, this isn’t an emergency. I’m working on my math homework right now and I can’t figure out what 71 divided by 3,052 is.”

However, rather than berating the confused minor for wasting valuable emergency services resources, police dispatcher Chris Clow did his bit for public relations. “I can try to help you. I don’t know how to do that off the top of my head either at the moment. One second,” he responded.

After clarifying that the boy really meant 3,052 divided by 71 Clow produced the right answer. “Just doing it on the calculator, it’s 42.98, which you would round up to 43.” The boy politely thanked his helper before hanging up.

“From an early age, kids are taught to call police if they need help,” the Fort Collins Police Services said in a statement. “This particular problem wasn’t the kind we typically handle, but we’re glad dispatch was able to help solve it.”

Mindful of the possibility of generating an influx of crank calls, it added that the US 911 number is for emergencies only and anyone looking for help otherwise should seek it elsewhere. The department spokesperson also sought to absolve the Police Services from any responsibility for any incorrect answers given should a caller get through to a kindly officer.

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