the Thai SEALS did their best, but were not experienced in cave rescues:(and this might explain why one of those brave SEALS died).
Outsiders who had expertise in saving people soon arrived and started to train them. The rescue from a cave with irregular walls etc. is a bit more complicated than rescuing folks from a mine.
British Cave Rescue website discusses.
again from the BBC:
Underground rescue has its own unique set of problems. Obstacles such as vertical shafts and climbs often with waterfalls, constricted and twisting passages and squeezes, static and flowing water sometimes completely flooding a passage, mud, loose rock, foul air, route finding and communications problems abound as, of course, does absolute darkness...Rescue from such an environment requires techniques that are often unique to cave rescue teams and with which other rescue services are normally unfamiliar.
John Volanthen and Rick Stanton had been braving Tham Luang's narrow, murky passageways for several days, laying out guide ropes and searching for signs of life. On Monday, the two men finally reached Pattaya Beach. But there was nothing. They continued onwards into the darkness. Then, a few hundred metres further, they found an air pocket. "Wherever there is air space we surface, we shout, we smell," John told the BBC. It's a standard procedure for such rescue operations. "We smelt the children before we saw or heard them."
but only one of the boys, a native of Myamar, could speak English and had to translate for him.
more at the link about the rescue.
And yes the boys were given an anti anxiety medication: but I didn't think this was inappropriate: Heck, we docs give small doses of anti anxiety medicine to people getting an MRI because panic and claustrophobia is so common (15% need it). And in this case, if the boy panicked, he could die.
update: Apparently they sedated the kids and wrapped them up on a stretcher and swam carrying the boys. And along the way they were transfered to other divers, and checked periodically by doctors to see they were okay.
Not quite Elon Musk's submarine but close to it.
Another small detail: The Australian doctor and the Thai SEALS left behind after the boys were rescued had to get out quickly because the Pumps draining the cave failed at that point.
UKMail has lots of photos,