CHICAGO (CBS) — If you have a heart attack away from the hospital in the city of Chicago, your chances of survival have gone up.

Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said the survival rate for someone in cardiac arrest away from the hospital in Chicago has gone up to 9.5 percent, which is a full percentage point higher than the national average of 8.5 percent. WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya reports.

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In 2013, he said, he learned the Chicago heart attack survival rate was less than 1 percent and he couldn’t believe it.

“We’re really great in trauma in Chicago,” Cmsr. Santiago said. “We’re unbelievable in trauma. But, I did not know we had a weak spot and that was cardiac arrest.”

Cmsr. Santiago credits Leslee Stein-Spencer, the director of the CFD Medical Administration and Regulatory Compliance Division, for coming up with the educational training program to get those numbers up.

Now, the fire department is taking another step in encouraging everyone to learn CPR. EMS District Chief Juan Hernandez said the fire department has produced a DVD to teach school-age children CPR.

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“Regardless of the age that you are, you can always do something to help somebody who goes down,” Hernandez said.

82-year-old Harvey Van Dam, of the Gold Coast, is happy people knew CPR when he went into cardiac arrest while on a lakefront bike ride in March. He said an off-duty Chicago police officer saw him collapse and immediately began CPR. A nurse from Lurie Children’s Hospital was next to come along and teamed up with the officer until paramedics arrived.

As a result of what happened, Van Dam’s wife, Judy, has signed up for a CPR class through the Chicago Heart Association. She said the class is June 5th and that she would have signed up for an earlier one, but that the other classes were already full.

70-year-old Thomas Marks credits the Chicago Fire Department paramedics with saving his life when he went into cardiac arrest in July 2015. He said paramedics used CPR and then a defibrillator on him before taking him to the University of Chicago Hospitals.

“I’ll be ever so grateful for the Chicago Fire Department,” Marks said.

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The new Chicago Fire Department statistics were released during the EMS Day awards event at the Fire Department Academy.