Crisis Logs


Keep track of the situation and what everyone is doing with simple logs


Crisis logs serve several important purposes.

  1. They make the crisis team more effective by making it clear what has been done and what still needs to be done.  This clarity translates into speedy action by the team and helps the crisis manager and team leaders maintain good control.
  2. They act as a chronological record of the events, which allow team members to develop a common understanding of the situation (often called a "common operation picture") and work towards common goals. 
  3. They make it easier to produce written and verbal briefings for management, media, new members etc. 
  4. They serve an important legal records.
  5. They are essential for post-crisis evaluations. 

01 | Type and number of logs

There are many different ways to design your logs. Some organisations use one "master log" that combines information, decisions and tasks; however this produces a documents that is difficult to read and sort, and makes tracking assigned and completed tasks more difficult than it needs to be. And easier way is to have 2 logs: one that captures information on the situation and one that logs all the actions of the crisis team. 

The situation log:  This is a record of all information the team receives on the situation, recorded in chronological order. This log is used to keep everyone updated on the general situation and to produce verbal and written situation briefings. It can also be projected on a screen for everyone to see.

The action log: This is the team's to-do list. It is a record of all assigned and completed tasks.  This help the crisis manager and team to easily track all their actions. It can be easily projected on a screen for everyone to see.


Situation Log:

  • Headings: Date | Local Time | Subject | Information | Provided by | Received by |
  • Example: 01/02/2018 | 14:00 | Status of Joe S | Joe S found at Aker Hospital | Seb H | Mary T |

Action log:

  • Headings:  Date | Local Time | Action | Assigned to | Assigned by | Deadline | Completed?
  • Example: 01/02/2018 | 14:10 | Call wife of Joe S to update her on his condition and location | Seb H | Liz A | 14:30 | No


Word documents and Excel sheets are often used but consider using Google Docs or Office 365.  Both allow for simultaneous writing/editing (but Google Docs is free). Multiple people can modify the logs at the same time without creating “version conflicts”. Google docs has a number of useful security settings that can limit downloading, printing, sharing, and remove users that no longer need access. 


You want logs that are short and easy to read. Think bullet points, not detailed meeting minutes. Use simple language and avoid acronyms. If you receive a lot of information at the same time, break it down into several easy-to-read entries. For the situation log, record only facts and events that have occurred and avoid writing down projections and assumptions (since this leads to blurry logs and can have legal ramifications in a lawsuit). 

05| The Notetaker(s).

Notetakers must be familiar with these guidelines and highlight format/quality issues to the crisis manager. A trained, skilled and empowered notetaker makes everyone's work much easier in a crisis.