EMCOMM / Technical Articles

EMCOMM: A Look at Break Tags and Prowords Used During Emergency Communications

Break Tags

Break Tags are a method of getting attention and establishing message priority. They have been used with great success in large public/emergency services nets. There are seven common one-word Break Tags (see below). The operator will use the one specified as a Break Tag without a call sign of any kind. Break Tags are to be used only when the operator’s traffic will be an attention grabber to net control and if it results in more efficient communication. After net control acknowledges, the message that follows the break should be as short as possible.

Definitions and Usage


Used when information needs to be transmitted rapidly but is not related to what is being said on the air.

  • Example: 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.


Used to report an important but non-life-threatening situation such as a traffic accident that just happened.


Used to report a minor medical incident that affects the operator in some way.

  • Example: Having to leave his/her post for a few minutes to walk someone with a minor cut over to a med tent.


Only used to report an ongoing life-threatening, property-threatening, or damaging incident.


An indication that the operator has traffic that can wait and does not require the cessation of the ongoing exchange. This tag is an expectation to be put on hold and in queue for transmission.


Used when you have the definitive answer to a question currently being discussed on the air.


Used when asking a question that can’t wait.

  • Example: The mayor is standing next to you and requesting you to get information using your radio.


Procedural words, or Prowords, are words or phrases that have special meaning to expedite the flow and accuracy of voice communications. A Proword is a standardized procedural word used to facilitate understanding.

Definitions and Usage


I have completed my transmission and I am awaiting a response.


I have completed my transmission and no response is necessary.


I am leaving the net or frequency, or I am closing my station.


Your last transmission was received satisfactorily (not to be used in place of “Affirmative” or “Yes”).


Sometimes use instead of Roger.


I agree, permission granted, or “Yes.”


I disagree, permission denied, or “No.”


Repeat (the indicated portion) of a transmission.


Pause between phrases to allow the writer to catch up with the sender.


The word or abbreviation that follows is spelled phonetically as….


The following will consist of a group of numerals.

Questions? Share them in the comments below or email me at KE8FMJ@arrl.net.

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