Break Tags

Break Tags:

When net communication gets heavy, someone may have a quick solution to a problem that is taking up too much valuable airtime for discussion, but can’t break into the net to share it. The use of “Break Tags” is the way to deal with such a scenario.

There are currently seven one-word Break Tags. They are: “answer,” “question,” “info,” “priority,” “medical,” “emergency” and your call sign by itself. Most of these tags have been used with great success in large public/emergency services nets. Here is how they work: Instead of saying “break” between transmissions during a directed net, the operator uses the word specified as a Break Tag with a call sign. They are to be used only when the operator’s traffic will be appreciated by net control and results in more efficient communication. They are to be used wisely, as net control is directed to stop and query the breaking station. The message that follows a break should be as short as possible. Make sure you know what you are going to say before using a break tag; some people can compose the transmission in their head, others will need to write the information down.

Here are the definitions and how they are used:

“Answer”:  To be used when you have the definitive answer to a question currently being discussed on the air.

“Question”:  To be used when the answer of a question can’t wait; for example, when the mayor is standing next to you and requesting you to get information using your radio.

“Info”:  To be used when information needs to be transmitted rapidly but is not related to what is being said on the air; for example, if an event that net control needs to know about is going to happen in the next few seconds or if waiting for the end of an exchange will negate the value of the information.

“Priority”:  To be used to report an important but non-life threatening situation such as a fender-bender that just happened.

“Medical”:  To be used to report a minor medical incident that affects the operator in some way; for example, having to leave his/her post for a few minutes to walk someone with a minor cut over to a med tent.

“Emergency”:  Only to be used to report an ongoing life or property threatening or damaging incident.

Your Call Sign:  Traditionally used as a break tag, but when used alone does not give the net control station the same amount of information that the other break tags do.

“Announcement”:  Used to let net control know you have an announcement of general interest for the net.

“Contact”:  Used to let net control of your desire to make contact with a station after the net. Used primarily for “one on one” information that isn’t intended for the entire net.

“Traffic”:  Used when formal NTS or Incident Command System ICS-213 needs to be relayed to another station. Use this break tag during the Region 3 weekly ARES net to pass formal messages to another station. Net control will arrange to have a receiving station stand by after the net to receive any formal traffic.

Using “Break Tags” takes little training. Its use is contagious and comes very naturally. Other RACES/ARES groups around the country are using them with good results.