Memorial park dedicated to fallen paramedic, all first responders

·3 min read

Jul. 16—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Saturday would have been the 46th birthday of fallen paramedic Janice Keen-Livingston.

To honor her memory, friends and family broke ground on a memorial park dedicated to her and all first responders who have diligently served their communities.

"Being here today is like a weight lifted off my shoulders," said Keen-Livingston's brother, Ken Keen.

The Lower Yoder fire chief was one of several organizers that have worked continuously since October 2015, just months after his sister was killed by a runaway truck while responding to an accident, to build this memorial.

"Today's ceremony is the culmination of over seven years of work and dedication," family friend Ron Wilson said.

He spoke during the event and touched on the vision organizers had for the park and what it should stand for.

"Today is one step closer to seeing that vision become a reality," Wilson said.

Saturday's ceremony consisted of speeches, a groundbreaking by the fallen paramedic's daughters, and a ribbon cutting.

There were several first responders in attendance at the future location of the Janice Keen-Livingston Memorial Park at the corner of Chandler Avenue and Garfield Street in the West End section of Johnstown.

Numerous members of Keen-Livingston's family — all wearing shirts that said, "In this family, no one stands alone" — were in attendance as well, including her mother, Debra Keen, who said it was an emotional day.

"We've just waited so long," she added. "I'm going to be so happy when that ground is broken."

The neighborhood was chosen because that's where Keen-Livingston was from.

Family and friends also agreed that the corner lot was perfect because it's a quiet area.

"I think this is wonderful," April Schwarz said. "It will be nice when it's all done."

The family friend drove from Allegheny Township to attend Saturday's event.

Schwarz said she did so to support the Keen family.

Park organizers have worked with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies to raise funding for this and future projects, including a memorial wall that families of first responders can buy plaques to be installed on.

Erin Kabler, a former Johnstown Police sergeant who's been involved in planning efforts, said the idea to honor all first responders came from a conversation with Keen-Livingston's father.

The pair noted that there are many firefighters, EMTs, officers, paramedics, and others that have several decades worth of service to their communities, but are only honored when they die.

Kabler said the wall will remedy that and last for generations.

He was also pleased to see the groundbreaking take place after seven years of work.

"We kept on course to do it the right way," Kabler said.

Organizers thanked the general contractor for the project, Danchanko, Inc., and Pristow's for maintaining the grounds.

Ken Keen said that money can be donated to the Janice Keen-Livingston Memorial Park Fund at the CFA to continue to help with the park.