A former Thai navy SEAL told Agence France-Presse that the 12 boys were partially sedated, fitted with a full face mask and passed from diver to diver through the cave complex in stretchers. There were also doctors stationed throughout the journey to monitor the condition of the boys, AFP reported.
Each of these arduous round trips took between nine and 11 hours for the international team of 18 divers. To swim through the flooded tunnels, which could get as narrow as 15 inches, one diver held the front end of the stretcher, along with the boy’s oxygen tank, while another held the rear end of the stretcher.
The new video from the navy does not include footage of the divers in the water with the boys, but it does show a team of people using pulleys, string and rubber tubes to haul a green, kayak-shaped stretcher out of a tight crevice. As the cave begins to open up toward the entrance, dozens are seen crouching down and wading through gushing water to help carry the stretcher. One of the boys lies on it covered in a metallic, reflective material.
There is still some uncertainty about the degree to which the boys were sedated before being escorted out. The diver who spoke to AFP said the boys were “groggy” but “breathing” when he helped to pull them out, while the BBC reported that according to divers, the boys were “heavily sedated to avoid anxiety.” Around five minutes into this video, the boy shown on screen has his eyes closed but appears conscious, bringing his right hand to his torso as people gather around him.
Although the boys spent nine days without food and more than two weeks in the dark, damp cave, they seem to be in good health. In another video, released by the government of Thailand on Wednesday, the boys seem energetic and healthy. Some are walking around, while others sit up in their beds, waving at cameras and flashing the two-finger victory sign and traditional Thai sign of respect from their quarantined unit at the Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital.
Doctors said that when the boys first arrived, one had a heartbeat that was too slow and some other had low counts of white blood cells, though those issues have since been resolved. The boys are expected to be released within seven days barring complications.