Tom Rodgers (CC2011) has a strong family connection to Cornish as his three siblings also attended the College. During his time at the Cornish campus of St Leonard’s he was involved in many different areas of the College such as mudlarks, athletics, swimming and public speaking.
Tom also formed strong connections with staff whilst at Cornish seeing them as mentors and role models. During his final years at Cornish, he particularly noted his form teacher Mark Byrne and his Physical Education teacher Andrew Goodman. He says staff were always helpful and would always go ‘above and beyond’. The running skills taught by Mike Davis initially led Tom to compete as a professional triathlete after leaving school and spent 3-4 years competing as a professional triathlete, while also working as a triathlon coach.
Tom eventually joined the Victoria Police when he was 22. His interest in the outdoors naturally led him towards the Victoria Police Search and Rescue team and he applied to join them at the end of 2021. There are only 24 people in the squad so there is a selection process only once every five years.
This process involved numerous in water and on land fitness, psychological, medical and mechanical tests. After being selected for the final round of testing, he undertook a 4-day selection camp involving a range of skills whilst on limited food and sleep. This part of the process resulted in many participants dropping out. He then had to undertake panel interviews and a 12-week initial training course including commercial diving, vertical rescue training and bush navigation skills. After passing this final testing he was selected as one of four new members of Victoria Police’s Search and Rescue team.
He continues to be part of the Search and Rescue team at Victoria Police where his role includes diving for evidence such as firearms or knives used in crimes, body recovery, high angle rescue from cliffs or trees, protester extraction from trees or high places, alpine rescue, swift water rescue, search coordination and dive fatality investigation. He spends 2-3 months each year in training to maintain the skills required of his role.
Tom continues to use many of the skills he learnt at Cornish. One of these skills is public speaking which has been a large part of his job. He also remembers learning how to tie a bowline many years ago – a knot he now uses on a daily basis as a lifeline when diving in dirty water or when conducting high angle rescues in trees.