10-year-old calls 911 for help with math homework

Posted at 7:18 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 19:18:10-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KCNC) – When a call came into 911 in Fort Collins, Chris Clow, a Fort Collins Emergency Services Dispatcher, thought he was ready for whatever may be on the other end of the line.

“Some people have grown to think that 911 is a catchall for, ‘I need help with something; I don’t know who to call,’” said Clow.

Clow has answered a variety of emergency calls in his four years as a dispatcher. A recent call from a young boy, however, caught him a bit off guard.

The child was trying find the answer to 3,052 divided by 71. The dispatcher, clearly taken off guard, took a few minutes to reach for a calculator.

“I can try to help you… I don’t know how to do that off the top of my head either at the moment,” Clow said.

“Okay, thanks,” the child answered.

Clow then asked if the kid had the problem right, wondering if the young student was working in decimals in school.

“At first he was confused because he had it backwards,” Clow told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.

After a quick adjustment of the equation, Clow helped the child in the midst of a math crisis.

A few more patient moments, and the dispatcher had an answer: 42.98.

“Just doing it on the calculator, it’s 42.98, which you would round up to like 43,” Clow said.

“Oh, okay. Thanks. Thank you,” the child responded.

While homework woes are no reason to call 911, Clow said he was happy he could help.

“I am on the public education team, so I think it was a good moment to help him out a little bit and not use it as a ‘don’t call 911’ teaching moment,” he said.

Clow called the unique call a “refreshing” break from the usual emergency calls he often answers.

“I don’t think a lot of people would’ve had the compassion or the patience that you did,” Werthmann said to Clow.

“I think it’s important to give (callers) that service whenever we can,” he said.

Fort Collins Police Services finished their post on social media by saying 911 is only for true emergencies, and school resource officers are more than willing to lend a hand when students need help.