Calamity Jane, an all-purpose rescue truck, arrived in Cecil County late in 1953. This special emergency vehicle was available for use in Cecil, Harford, and Kent counties. The truck had nearly 100 different types of extraction equipment, every imaginable tool, mechanical device and article needed when lives and property were endangered.
It was one of six heavy rescue vehicles Civil Defense stationed in various parts of Maryland. The truck, a bright and shiny Reo with the familiar red-and blue symbols of CD on it was under the command of rescue squad Captain
W. Andrew Seth of Civil Defense. John J. Ward, Jr. the chief of the agency said that while the truck was primarily here to “protect the community in the event of an air attack by a hostile power, it could used for any disaster which might occur.”
It had been manufactured by the Reo Motor Company of Lansing, MI. It was capable of carrying a crew of eight and traveling at a speed of about 55 miles per hour. The manufactured called it a “combination Red Cross ambulance, fire truck and utility company trouble-shooter.”
A major explosion rocked Chestertown in 1954 when the Kent Manufacturing Company’s fireworks plant exploded. The charred five acres of plant property, leveled buildings, and critically injured workers called for a massive emergency response, and calamity Jane, Cecil’s heavy rescue vehicle, rushed to the scene to provide aid.