Chief Gordon Vickery began his career as a firefighter and rose to the rank of Fire Chief in Seattle, which he held from 1963 until he retired in 1972. He created the Medic One (1968) and Medic Two programs with cardiologist, Dr. Leonard Cobb. With these programs, he is credited as building the Seattle Fire Department into one that was held as an example that many other departments nationwide modeled themselves after. This includes the minority-training program, community-safety programs, arson task force, as well as the Medic One program. Medic One and Medic Two were intended to bring pre-hospital coronary and trauma care to the site of the emergency, and when the Seattle City Council declined to fund the program, firefighters solicited donations and kept the program going.
The success of these programs were among the reasons that Vickery went to Washington in 1979 and served as interim head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and then director of FEMA’s United States Fire Administration under President Carter. Vickery, through his work with the Fire Administration, helped promote fire-prevention education, and introduced a national system for reporting fires.