Going Places. Here at Home: Preston Landt

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Preston Landt

Remote work allows first responder to help community

This is one in a series of articles highlighting the latest generation of innovators making a difference in Clayton County.


By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


Preston Landt grew up in Clayton County, but moved to Iowa City—and later Denver, Colo.—following high school. He and wife Sophie came back to the area, eventually settling in Monona, around a decade ago, in order to raise daughter Layla closer to family.


“At that time, I was managing the Geek Squad on site teams in Colorado and an opening was made in Iowa so I could manage the teams in Iowa instead. We moved to Marion and lived there a couple years, then I switched to a job that was fully remote, so I could live wherever I wanted, and we moved back here,” said Landt. 


He’s worked remotely in some capacity for over 15 years—well before the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary, and even popular. 


The career opportunity has allowed Landt not only to live close to family and enjoy the area’s natural resources through hunting and fishing, but to become involved in the community.


“When we moved back to Monona, I thought, ‘I should probably do something,’” Landt recalled. “I knew I would have time, working from home, to be able to help out.”


Volunteering was a family tradition. Landt’s father served on the Luana Fire Department when he was young, while his mom was on the EMS service.


He reached out to the Monona Volunteer Fire Department first, then the MFL Ambulance.


“I happened to see an article in the paper that they were looking for EMTs,” he said. “Within a short time, I was signed up for class. Then, the fire department also ended up voting me on. So I got on both at the same time.”


Serving as an EMT fulfills Landt’s interest in the medical field while allowing him to help others.


“Getting to interact with a lot of people in town at the worst point of their day—to be able to help them out and keep them going—is huge,” Landt said. “A lot of people take for granted that, if you call 911, somebody is coming, or you can go down the street to the hospital and it’s all good. Around here, every hospital is 30 minutes away, and there’s nothing that says a city has to have an ambulance service. To make it so that, when people call and know somebody is going to come and take care of them, that’s big.”


Landt, who’s now the EMS crew chief, believes the reassurance of a community ambulance service helps people stay in their homes longer. Patients also know they’re not just a number.


“I might have an ambulance call and remember, ‘Hey, I hauled this person two years ago. I know this is a medical issue.’ There’s something to be said for small-town services to have that understanding and knowledge of people,” he explained.


Through the fire department, Landt has helped with the annual pancake breakfast, fireworks show and Fire Prevention Week activities with local students. He responds to calls too.


“You get involved in the town from a safety perspective, maybe working with the school to come up with safety plans. I’ve also done a fair amount of work with people from the county,” he said. 


Landt’s tech experience even helped the fire department add a drone. He’s become licensed to fly it and shows others how to operate it.


He also recommended an app called eDispatchers that both fire and EMS can use in addition to their pagers. The whole county utilizes it now.


“All of your page information comes through your cell phone,” Landt said. “Once a page comes through, the address is there and you can just pull it up and get a map to it.”


Along with serving as a first responder, Landt is on the city cemetery and ambulance boards and is Monona’s alternate to the county 911 board. He’s also a Monona city council member.


Landt admitted he initially had no plans to join city government.


“It was one of those things where Soph works at the [city] office and there was somebody getting off and nobody ran to fill the seat,” he said. “The main reason I got involved was because I saw there were things we could do as a town to make things better. My goal overall is to make it so people want to be in this town.”


The experience has given Landt a unique perspective, particularly into city finances, ordinances and infrastructure.


“Unless you go to council meetings on a regular basis, you really don’t understand the inner workings,” he said. “It’s a completely different view than what the typical person in town finds.”


Would Landt have been so involved if he still lived in a larger city? Not necessarily, he said.


“I maybe would have volunteered to do something, but the stuff I do—ambulance and fire—in a bigger community are paid positions. That’s a career. Same thing with city council,” Landt said. “When we lived in the city, I also felt like there were tons of people to help out with all the groups. I never felt like I needed to and that it mattered.”


In communities like Monona, though, the ambulance service is mere injuries or retirements away from not having enough people to keep it going. 


“That’s not as big a problem in a city,” Landt stated. “Around here, you really have to rely on volunteers to do it.”


“And because all the things out there aren’t paid positions, if people don’t volunteer, that eventually could go away,” he continued. “From an EMS perspective, I see that the most. If people won’t take some time out of their day to help out their neighbors and volunteer for things, those services can go away. If no one volunteers to be on the council, how are you going to run a town? If those services go away, it makes it so small towns aren’t viable. Any time they can give helps.”


Between all his commitments, Landt estimates he spends nearly as many hours per week volunteering as he does working.


He doesn’t feel like any volunteer duties are work, though.


“The first week of the month is always busy in the evenings for me between the different things, and I never walk away saying, ‘I didn’t have time to do that.’ It doesn’t feel like work. I like what I’m doing,” he said.

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