The Tisbury police will now carry Narcan, a medication that counteracts opiate overdose, in their police cruisers.

Island EMS departments have been administering Narcan, generic name naloxone, since 2007. But now Tisbury police are joining a growing number of police departments statewide which have trained their officers to use the life-saving drug.

Tisbury police Lieut. Eerik Meisner said police are typically the first to arrive on the scene, just ahead of emergency medical personnel, so it makes sense for them to carry Narcan.

“Our response time usually is and should be quicker,” he said.

Karen Casper, an emergency physician at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, has agreed to oversee the medical aspect of the program. In an email to the Gazette this week, Dr. Casper said she was happy to support the program.

“By carrying and using the nasal Narcan, [police] can administer the drug to a narcotic overdose patient quickly and easily — this often results in saving the patient’s life,” she wrote.

The department has found an off-Island pharmaceutical company to supply the drug, Lieutenant Meisner said.

So far, they have purchased five doses of Narcan, a total investment of about $143, which came out of the department’s budget.

Police officers have been trained to administer the drug, which is given with a syringe that has a felt tip and is sprayed into the person’s nose.

The drug rapidly reverses the effects of opiates such as heroin and oxycodone, but the person must be carried to a medical facility within 30 minutes, Lieutenant Meisner said.

He said police already perform basic medical tasks like giving CPR and using an automated external defibrillator (AED), and administering Narcan is just another one of those first responder tasks.

He said part of a police officer’s job is saving lives.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said of the Narcan program.

In March, Gov. Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency to bring attention to the state’s high rate of opiate overdose. At the time, he encouraged all of the state’s police, firefighters, and other emergency personnel to carry Narcan.

Cape Cod police already carry Narcan through a joint initiative of the district attorney’s office and Barnstable County, and the state police department is in the process of training all of its officers statewide.

Reached Friday, Edgartown police chief Antone Bettencourt said his department also had a license to carry Narcan, and would soon train each member of the department to administer the drug. The district attorney's office has agreed to donate one dose for every member of the department, about 20 in all, he said.

“If we can save somebody's life, it's really a no brainer for us,” he said.

The Island state police barracks is also working to train one of its officers in the use of Narcan, and plans to eventually train everyone, said state police Sgt. Joseph Pimental.

“Hopefully we won’t have to use it but if we need to, it will be there,” Lieutenant Meisner said.