1952 REO F221B Gold Comet Civil Defense Rescue Truck
1952 REO F221B Gold Comet Civil Defense Rescue Truck, REO 331 6-cyl 5-spd Gas Engine (128HP), Original Odometer Reads 9,789 Miles, 2-spd Rear End, Swift FODA 12' Body, Front-Mounted Heavy Duty Power Winch, PTO, Roof Ladder Rack, Interior & Exterior Storage Compartments, Outfitted with Horn, Siren, Turn Signals, Lights & Rescue Litters, Tow Package, Very Clean & Well-Preserved Vintage Cold War Era Collector's Item
History: At the onset of the Cold War, the Federal Government wanted to prepare American cities for a potential nuclear exchange with the USSR and ordered up 1,300 Civil Defense Rescue Service trucks such as this REO Gold Comet. They were referred to as "Calamity Janes" and stocked stretchers, gas masks, drinking water, tools and first aid along with many other emergency supplies.
On August 29, 1949, the USSR detonated its first atomic bomb, and though no one could know it at the time, the Cold War was on. The Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950 laid the groundwork for modern Civil Defense planning, accepting the harsh reality that an exchange of nuclear weapons would bring with it devastating consequences. Planning began for bomb shelters and fallout shelters, mass casualty medical treatment, fire control, debris cleanup, mass evacuations, relocation of essential industries, economic rehabilitation and federal government continuity. At the state level, civil defense plans were formed for municipalities, while education on what to do during a nuclear attack (“Duck and Cover”) began at the elementary school level.
Realizing that recovery from a nuclear attack would take resources that most municipalities lacked, the federal government developed a grant program for cities to purchase rescue vehicles from manufacturers like Willys, GMC, International, and REO. Thankfully, none of the Calamity Janes were ever used in a worst-case nuclear disaster role, though many saw action in the aftermath of natural disasters as municipal and government agency rescue trucks.