AL ASAD - When a service member is wounded in combat, his comrades quickly apply first aid and call for a medical evacuation; taking the first steps towards saving his life. When the helicopter arrives, the wounded man is loaded and transported to the hospital, where he is met at the landing pad by a team of medics and doctors who rush the service member into the hospital. At the hospital, the real lifesaving begins.

Thanks to the new level three hospital being built on Al Asad, wounded service members have a greater chance of receiving the lifesaving care they need faster.

The new 399th Combat Support Hospital, which is scheduled to open the first week of March, will replace the current level two-plus hospital here, according to Army Col. Joseph Blansfield, the deputy commander for nursing services for the 399th CSH.

"We'll have a greater breadth and scope of clinical capability," said Blansfield. "Plus we'll have the ability to hold patients longer for medical treatment."

One of the biggest advantages to the new hospital is the ability to hold patients overnight, according to Blansfield.

"It's in the best interest of the patients," said Blansfield. "Currently, the patients get an operation that basically tries to restore their life support functions and then they are sent out on life support. We can get them a bit more stabilized and do a definitive operation so that when they are sent out they are sent out in a more stable condition after they have had maybe one or two operations. They are in a better condition to recover."

Besides treating patients straight from the battlefield, the new facility will also receive patients from level two facilities throughout Iraq, such as Fallujah and Ramadi, according to Blansfield.

Patients may not even need to leave Al Asad to fully recover, according to Army 1st Sgt. Charles Michaud, the 399th CSH first sergeant.

"The other hospital has to patch patients up and move them to a facility like ours as soon as they are stabilized," said Michaud. "We will be able to give them a longer time to recover before moving them. Or, we can keep them here till they recover and can go back to their units."

Another advantage of the new hospital is the wide range of care that patients will be able to receive, according to Michaud.

There's too many to list," said Michaud of the types of personnel staffing the new hospital. "We have medics. We have a whole range of doctors and surgeons, and we have a lot of nurses with different specialties."

The hospital will offer everything from a dietician to orthopedic surgeons, according to Army Lt. Col. Joaquin Curtiella, the deputy commander of clinical services for the 399th CSH.

With a pharmacy, labs, a blood bank, X-ray and CT scan machines, the new hospital is almost comparable to a civilian hospital back in the states, according to Army 1st Lt. Ellen Elliot, a registered nurse for the 399th CSH.

"We have everything we need to impact a wounded soldier's life," said Elliot.